I hear that some of Edith Wharton’s books are investigations into what constitutes an honorable life. The person who mentioned this was wondering out loud if “honor” is even part of our culture any longer.
Each poem I used to write was what it was. But I was moved to write thinking that some of them would provide some small insight for me, and maybe even for others. At this juncture in my life – after cancer and divorce, and caught in worries about money now and future — I don’t feel like I have insights or wisdom. Since this is no longer working as a motivator, I wonder if it’s still worth writing.
I am glad when my favorite bloggers blog. I feel grateful that they have been generous enough to take the time to write. I’m intensely interested in how people decide what’s worth doing, where they get the strength and equanimity to do what must be done, how they balance their lives, and where they find happiness.
When I was younger, I read wide and deep out of curiosity, thinking to figure life out by reading about what I didn’t already know – experiences of people who were older, or in different cultures, or in different points in history. As I get older, I find myself with less energy to be curious about the unknown world, and more pressed to find people who are wondering/thinking /seeking/finding solutions to problems they face that I also face without happy solutions.
On the other hand, I escape. No longer into alcohol or drugs; sometimes into food; often into fantasy. Into mystery stories where there are always answers. Into worlds where magic is a feasible intervention. Into tales of super powers or super spies or fabulous wealth, or better still, all three together.
I often feel like I did in 7th grade when facing the insurmountable obstacle of algebra — not knowing what I didn’t know, so not knowing even what questions to ask. Now I face the seemingly unscalable algebras of difficult parenting, of my body’s aging, of loneliness, of providing for my son and myself in these times that are not what I counted on them to be.
I wonder if Edith Wharton would take one of these issues and write a novel to imagine how another real sized but differently charactered person might find solutions that elude me.
I have started going to the gym, taking NIA (a dance + martial arts curriculum of movement) following the instructors call, “stomp, stomp, strong, strong, forward. Then light light light back.” Watching her, I think I am doing exactly what she is doing. Then I see myself in the mirror and realize that my strong isn’t very strong, and my light and quick, aren’t very. This is something of a revelation. Actually, I’m rather stunned. Who I think I am, I may not be. How I appear, may not be me.
I have slipped out of the story of my life. But I seem to have a bad case of writer’s block. I wonder if I have actually ever authored my life, or whether it has just unfolded. And which should I do now?
I may have to change. Really change.
Imagine a host of new characters with new strengths and possibilities. Then pick one, and practice?