“How many Kafka’s have lived and died without ever sharing their voice with the world, when their voice would have changed it forever. How many people never know who they’ll be after they’re gone.” ~ Robert Pantano, Pursuit of Wonder
Every year for my mother’s birthday, I take her out for dinner. Unfortunately, her favorite restaurant, Country Catfish, closed. So we googled catfish restaurants in the area and was surprised to find that Red Lobster® serves catfish.
While we were waiting for our meal, we decided to play the electronic table games. Smashy Brick was fun, but didn’t keep our attention very long, so we switched to trivia games.
Mom avoided selecting the book category because she knows I love to read and she has never really liked to read. I know right! To be fair, I have never liked to do crafty things like sew or crochet.
Finally, only the book category remained and a question stumped me!
“Who would Player 1 prefer to read: Shakespeare, JK Rowling, Stephen King, or Kafka?”
Who is Kafka? I couldn’t believe there was a name on a list of the most recognized writers and I had no idea who it was or what genre he (or she) wrote; Poetry, SciFi, Historical, Horror, Mystery, Fantasy, Self-Help? I couldn’t wait to get home and look it up!
Franz Kafka… Wow! What I discovered blew my mind. His name could be used in place of feeling down, fearful, and insecure; as in “I have been feeling a bit Kafka lately due to the pandemic and election drama!”
Actually, there is a related word that has a similar meaning according to the Cambridge Dictionary: “Kafkaesque”
“Extremely unpleasant, frightening, confusing, and similar to situations described in the novels of Franz Kafka.”
Franz Kafka had a passion for writing, but when his first novel didn’t sell, he decided his writing must not be worthy of publication. He continued to write, but on his deathbed, asked his best friend to burn the manuscripts. Fortunately, his friend published Kafka’s work instead of burning it, thereby creating Kafka’s posthumous legacy.
Kafka struggled with self-esteem issues, thanks to his tyrannical father. How many of us can relate to having a “Kafka” father that bullies, abuses, and demeans.
Nearly one hundred years later, Kafka’s dark tales resonates with creatives who are torn between speaking up and remaining silent; between ignoring the voices within and giving them an outlet in order to stay sane; between sharing their stories and doubting if anyone even cares enough to read them.
I’ve been there. Many times. But something internally pushes me to forsake all other avenues and write to give that little girl, who was silenced for so long, a voice.
I have often felt that my poetry and stories may not gain traction until after I’ve departed, if ever, and that’s okay. I’m honoring the drive within my soul to write, come what may.
Maybe my writing will inspire someone to share their own stories. Who knows what effect pursuing our passion and taking action may have in healing our wounds and helping someone else along the way.
All that enlightenment from playing a game and hanging out with my mother on her special day. Write on!