Sunday, May 02, 2010

Roses

Leaf on a log

I read this quote about romance novels the other day, on one of the blogs I wander around every so often: "It’s a 50-plus-year-old industry comprised mostly of women writers operating their own businesses and producing a genre about women’s self-actualization, pursuit of autonomy, and acquisition of sexual agency for an audience made mostly of women, who buy over $1.4 billion dollars worth of books a year."

Even though I'm not a huge fan, it's an interesting take on that world. It's a good example of how something that is looked down upon, derided, can take on another appearance when looked at from another angle.

I have been trying to look at my life from different angles. It’s so easy to get caught up in the slow, steady pace of one day into the next, one month to the next, one season to the next. And the next thing you know, you’re fifty. Or eighty. Or 110.

When I tell the story of my life, I tell it in these huge sweeping plotlines, with arcs and major decisions, inciting incidents. But I almost never knew what the turning points were when I made them. Strike that: I never knew what the turning points were when I made them. Could I be on the cusp of one right now? I have no earthly idea.

I used to think that any single day of any single person’s life could be used as the plot of a major Dostoevsky-type epic novel. You know, Bloomsday. The whole Joyce thing. What if that’s not true either? What if a lot days are just filled with boring television-show watching, procrastination, staving off time’s arrow and the slow process of decay for another 24 hours? Does each day really have enough heroic moments to form an epic plotline?

I’m less sure of that now. Maybe there really are singular days that are ends of eras. Fin. Curtain. How do we know when those days are when we’re living them? We absolutely don't.

Sailing past Bimini Island, I knew that the year before Hemingway’s bar, The Compleat Angler, had burned to the ground with all of its memorabilia. I couldn’t help but think of it as the end of the era. I was on the cusp of a new one. Everything was new: entering that blue water, crossing the Gulf Stream, embarking on a new and perilous adventure. But each change in angles, each end, though a beginning, also meant a terrifying break with the past. I’m scared to break with the past. Not so scared, perhaps, that I end up cradling my aging body in front of the television for the next twenty years. But sometimes I do that for days on end, afraid to push myself out of my current snake skin, into one that’s fresh, new, raw, painful, terrifying.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Melissa,

I listened a sermon yesterday on the same thing. It was on John 5:1-9, but I encourage you to read further. The story of this man who couldn't get into the pool fast enough to be healed and Jesus healed him. There is a mass of commentary/ sermon notes narrowing down to generally two applications. 1. The story is about how merciful Jesus is, even though Jesus was surrounded by other sick people that he didn't heal. 2. The relatively new application of "name it and claim it" faith healing even though it took the man 38 years and the man did not answer Jesus' question of "Do you want to get well" with "yes, and I believe you can do it!". My priest suggests that based on the context of the chapter, the whole thing is about showing mercy on the Sabbath and that Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath. The application in the sermon was then about getting into the healed man's head. Do you think this man understood the greater plan or point Jesus was thinking of? No! He was so excited to be well. Do any of us know what Jesus is doing in our lives for his purposes? It is comforting to know that God is working out a beautiful work of art for his glory with the small brush strokes of the moments of our lives. He is in control even when we are in significant pain or following orders to "pick up your mat and walk" or watching TV or making choices about eating beans rather than home grown tomatoes or squirrel.

Audra

Melissa said...

Great comment, Audra, and an interesting perspective on that healing. Isn't that the same man whose parents, in another gospel, have to choose whether or not to believe their son's version of events or the Pharisees? It's tough to know what kind of plan God is working in our lives (especially those of us who encounter serious illness, or death, or trauma). Often, it's impossible. But that's why they call it faith. My prayer is always: "Lord, I believe. Help Thou my unbelief."