It has been a while, gentle readers, hasn’t it?
This is partly because I’ve been run off my feet. It is also because I’ve been a bit lost for words. It is true that when we don’t keep up our good (or bad) habits, we fall out of them. So there’s that. But it’s also a question of integrity.
Lately I’ve been watching this show Girls. It’s something I’m selfish about…I don’t share it with Chris, not because of the presumably girly nature of the show itself (Chris was a die-hard Desperate Housewives fan for years. True story.). Anyway, it’s not even just a girly show. But it does bring up a lot of emotional junk for me. I started watching it, incidentally, because there is a character named Shoshana, and as many of you know, one of my besties is named Shoshana. Not an uncommon name, but I only know just the one. My Shoshana is also a little crazy, but more in a Liz-Lemon-as-schoolteacher sort of way, not in the way of Girls‘ Shoshana. And I miss her a lot, a lot of the time. There are many other reasons I heart this show, including that the main character (who happens to be played by the writer/director of the same show, the ridiculously talented Lena Dunham) is so fantastically flawed I can completely relate to her. In fact, the likenesses between us are frightening…our differences lie only in what we are and aren’t shameless about. I really need to take a step back from my friends on the small screen.
(I am not, by the by, comparing myself to the real Lena Dunham, who happens to be way younger than me and stupidly – if completely deservedly – successful already.)
So anyway, the point is that in a recent-to-me episode (I’m a few behind), one of the characters says to another, “I love when young people are passionate about something and then they just give up the second they have to struggle.” And it got me to thinking about the fact that I’ve been thinking an awful lot lately about some things along those lines in my own life. I am, admittedly, no longer part of that category of people we call “young,” but damned if I feel like any kind of a proper grown-up.
Here I am, this person who tried unsuccessfully to be a writer after a nearly-successful go at NGO management consultation (this close!) after working in the homelessness sector in London after a very long and drawn-out academic career resulting in exactly one Bachelors (including a minor, damnit!), this person who has been gainfully employed in more than 30 capacities in her 33 years on the planet and who is now…drumroll, please…teaching English.
Listen, I respect what I do. I am really, really loving it, actually. My students are excellent, and I’ve always loved the idea of teaching. I just never fancied teaching English in my dining room…my fantasies were more along the lines of me standing in front of some freakishly large blackboard, so far away from the students in the back rows of the auditorium classroom of the Ivy League university where I’m teaching they couldn’t possibly make out my laugh lines, preaching passionately about the rights of humans and daring the system to bring me down by nature of my refusal to stand down and be silent…something like that. Instead I find myself banging on about the present continuous and demonstrative pronouns and what have you.
Who are we? Are we who we thought we would be, or who we actually are right now? Are we who we’ve been, or who we’re going to be? And what measures do we use when we look in the mirror and decide between, “Yes, this is good, you. Keep it up!” and “What the fuck are you doing with your life?”
I don’t want to be this person who is always satisfied with the state of things. I don’t want my world view and my expectations of myself to be so maleable that they change with the rising and falling tide of convenience, energy, and age. But equally, I don’t want to spend every day thinking there is something better out there, and I’m just missing it. Because eventually those days will be up. Finito. Kaput. And I’ll have to look back at how lovely they were, and how I wasted them wishing they were something other than what they were, which was, presumably, exactly what they were supposed to be.
A few months ago, I had this really deep thought while I did my yoga, and my computer was to hand as I was listening to some ragas during my practice, and so profound was the idea that I finished my asana and typed it down. It said this:
“My suffering comes from wishing things were as they aren’t, or that they weren’t as they are. Working to make things better than they are doesn’t create suffering; on the contrary, it’s that work that has brought me more joy in my life than anything else. It is the momentary rage that accompanies the sense of helplessness brought on by this insane – if quite pedestrian – idea that by our will we can change the moment. The moment simply is what it is. The future is what we make it.”
I typed it on the document that happened to be open – my to-do list – and that was excellent because it meant that I got to look at it quite a lot and reflect on it. Consequently it only took me a few days to realize I’d simply paraphrased the AA Serenity Prayer. No matter. Good stuff to think about anyway.
If there’s been a common theme that’s run throughout all my years on the planet, it is a quest for truth. When I was a kid I was first confronted with the idea of truth in what I now think was a sort of traumatic way: the Catholic confessional. Years later one of my university professors introduced me to Gandhi’s idea of satyagraha, a big beautiful word I’ve never once forgotten. In my professional life I’ve only ever wanted to merge making a living with making life better, and I’m not sure I’m doing that in any kind of a big way right now, which is something that gives me pause for thought…am I being my truest self?
And that’s the thought that makes the words get stuck on the tips of my fingers before they pour out to you. That, and also, what on Earth is exciting or thought-provoking about the work I’m doing? At the end of the day, I can think of nothing less exhilarating than a blog recounting my day-to-day, particularly if my day-to-day is less What if? And why not??? and more Right, this’ll do.
I’m not unhappy. And I’m not giving up on writing, I’ve just come to terms with the fact that it won’t pay my half of the rent. And I’m still driven to explore every nook and cranny I spy in this crazy life, and when they turn out to be exciting, thought-provoking, or even just very, very funny, I will endeavor to bring them to you, my lovely, supportive, gentle readers…
It just means there will continue to be a little more meantime between my posts…maybe a lot…I do hope you’ll keep reading. And here’s hoping that some of that meantime gets filled in with photos and deep thoughts from WI&WN’s other magic maker, innit?