View From The Glen

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Mermaid's Chair

Once in a while, life and literature collide.

At our Red Tent bookclub meetings the first thing we do is check in - give a brief (or not) update on what is going on in our lives. Moving, babies, family, careers....anything and everything. And in January, when it was my turn I said I felt nothing really ever happens in my life. Not that I'm unhappy - it isn't that I want any of the "D-minor drama" of life - but by the time it's my turn to check in, I can barely say what it is that I do week to week.

So I made vague, inarticulate references to how I feel, and how I have decided it's just the phase of life I am in - everything is stable, we have no big issues, no major life events happening: it's all good. Let's be honest, I told the girls in my book club, they just don't make books or movies about people like me. You need conflict for that. And who needs conflict? Heads nodded.

Not two days I picked up The Mermaid's Chair. I was ho-hum about starting the book, but picked it up anyway, and there it was, smack-dab on page 8 - how I felt, only eloquent.

"With winter the feeling had deepened. I would see a neighbor running along the sidewalk in front of the house, training, I imagined, for a climb up Kilimanjaro. Or a friend at my book club giving a blow-by-blow of her bungee jump from a bridge in Australia. Or - and this was the worst of all - a TV show about some intrepid woman traveling alone in the blueness of Greece, and I'd be overcome by the little sparks that seemed to run beneath all that, the blood/sap/wine, aliveness, whatever it was. It had made me feel bereft over the immensity of the world, the extraordinary things people did with their lives - though, really, I didn't want to do any of those particular things. I didn't know then what I wanted, but the ache for it was palpable."
~ Sue Monk Kidd, The Mermaid's Chair

The ache for it was palpable. I read this and immediately wanted to dance on the beach, wade into the ocean at night, run in the rain, gallop a horse across a moorland...all things I've done, but not for so, so long.

At first I wondered, why not? Why and when did I stop doing all the things that made me feel alive? But reflecting a bit, I realized that it isn't that I've stopped, but rather that the things that fulfill me have changed. I think when you're young and learning who you are, you tend to live life more adventurously, more haphazardly, constantly defining and re-defining yourself. We danced spontaneously through the streets at midnight because we could and because it was fun. Then we have a tendency to look back at our crazy halcyon youth and remember it with nostalgia, and we think, Those were the days.

But they weren't. Not really. The truth is that THESE are the days.

I don't jump into a freezing lake with my best friend in April like I used to every year because I no longer need to. The things that make me feel alive today are different, quieter. But no less important.

They just don't make for very good stories.

1 comment:

Leanne Haines said...

Thanks for this, D. I'm right there with you! I still think of that New Year's Eve that we danced down the street in the snow! We were so giddy with life! But I love snuggling with my babies and my hubby by the Christmas tree on New Year's Eve just as much. Life has changed -- but it's all good.