Most of my favorite novels and movies begin with a crisis of the spirit and the Magical Catastrophe–or when the protagonist takes up with a terrible idea. However, I’m forced to acknowledge that actual life is often nothing like these narratives, at least not in terms of how the story paces itself. I think that’s largely a function of storytelling–to edit out all the boring bits and keep the audience attentive. Hours, days, weeks of indecision are reduced to a single moment of epiphany, to a sequence of chance encounters and spur of the moment decisions–crossroads moments.
In our daily lives, these epiphanies and sequences are much more spread out, interspersed with the spare change moments of being alive–that afternoon when we took a nap instead of working on a project, the days where we never left the house because we were too busy being consumed by self-doubt, the hours and hours of lonely darkness when we couldn’t join the rest of the town or city in its nightly ritual of comfortable unconsciousness. It’s these moments that pool together at the bottom of our lives and add up to that moment of “Eureka!” Except it all too often happens more along the lines of “Huh. That’s funny. What’s that?”
For me, at least, the big turning points always came at times when I had grown bored with myself. I was antsy, fractious, weary of nothing and everything. Such a time has come to me once again. No, I don’t intend to purchase a Tuscan villa or start sailing around the world in a boat entirely constructed of papyrus reeds, but the crisis of spirit has come and gone. My days have been comprised of trivialities and avoidance of my own gaze. Then, forcing myself to meet my own eye in the mirror, to look at my life and take stock of what it is not.
That stings a bit, because at almost 33, I really ought to have done more than I have, laid claim to more, been more to someone else. I let that sentence sink in for a moment, and my backup Optimism generator kicks in, as it always does in emergencies. Because I have yet to adopt the framework of someone else’s idea of what a life ought to look like, I am still free to make this life a thing of beauty, full to bursting with meaning that is my own and not that of another. Now, I must go out and do that, in a way that only I can. Perhaps we should all take this opportunity to raise a prayer of thanks to whatever Deity you recognize that I was not born twins.
More to come, but for the nonce, good night. I have a Magical Catastrophe to run to earth.
“We must be willing to let go of the life we planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us.”