The Safest Translation

Yesterday I interviewed Sue Monk Kidd and her daughter Ann Kidd Taylor, coauthors of the recently released memoir Traveling With Pomegranates. We spent a lot of time talking about the memoir as an art form and the tricky job the writer has distilling the vast details of their lives into a coherent narrative. The memoirist is in effect translating her own experience for her reader.

It occurred to me that translation is a good skill to learn whether or not we ever write a memoir. Everyone I meet is something of a traveler from a foreign country for whom I must find the best words and gestures so he or she might understand what it is I want to share with them. That we both know English is useful but by no means a guarantee I will be understood. No matter how intimate, we all remain strangers to some degree, isolated within the domain that is our unique perception.

It is a divide, however, that asks the best of us. While one can find commonality in outrage and despair, the truest bond, in fact the only bond that can sustain, is that of love. Eventually, one party will fatigue of outrage before the other, and the fraternity of fear will be lost. No one has ever grown tired of love. It is entirely impossible to do so; it would be like growing tired of breathing.

Love is the only bridge that truly connects us, inviting us as it does to set aside our fear of that which we do not know. Sometimes what we do not know is a new job, or a new city, or a new school, and sometimes it is a new story or a new neighbor, but the question to us in each instance remains the same: do you trust this world or not? If the answer is, Yes, we find that the reach of love extends far beyond the husband and wife or the mother and child—it is the enduring promise of every moment that you are safe forever within the perception of love.

More Author Articles