Wednesday, February 12, 2014
A somewhat whiny, somewhat enlightened, very human letter to God.
In case you couldn't tell (and I think you probably can), I'm feeling really antsy these days. So many thoughts, plans, hopes and ideas are rolling around in my brain. Wedding plans, writing a manuscript and reading for school, going to work, thinking about the future... I just want to jump up and go! Sometimes I make myself so antsy that I can't even concentrate enough to get the small things done that will push me forward towards the larger goals. I'm being a stereotypical millenial, I guess, too plugged in and needy for instant gratification and my head buzzes from one priority to the next so I start to think they're all priorities and then I don't get much of anything done. The early darkness and cold of winter don't help; I can picture spring, open-skied, light until late, full of time and possibilities... But right now I just feel stuck in the present, waiting for spring, waiting for the future.
What's got me so hooked on the future? Well, I'll get married, which I'm so excited about. And this will sound so naive, God, but - I'm anxious to get past the wedding planning and learn what marriage will actually be like. What will change for us, what will stay the same? What will we have to adjust to, what will come easily? Where will we live, what will we name our dog? I'm excited but I'm nervous, too. And I'm not used to being the center of attention with all of this wedding stuff. Sure, a lot of the time I enjoy it, but sometimes I'm not sure how to handle it, sometimes it's weird. I can't wait to celebrate that day that will be unlike all other days, and see what comes after. I want to know.
I'm writing a manuscript, for grad school but mostly for me, with grad school being the impetus to get my butt in the chair and actually write it. And oh, God, it comes in shards of fits and starts. I feel like an idiot sometimes, writing fragments and long, drawn out paragraphs that in no way resemble what happened or what I want it to say, and doing it so many times without improvement. I have to remind myself that this is important work, somewhere deep down I always know it is, but so often it's just random words tossed onto a page without personality or purpose. I want to get past that, or at least get past thinking like that. Because when I think too hard on it I lose the discipline, I whine in my head, I want to automatically transform into a writer better than myself without putting in the work. I want to know!
I want to feel settled, with all of this and more, I want to have a cozy house and a yard and a dog with my husband (and one grocery list, one refrigerator, one place to go at night, not two houses 30 miles apart) and a writing room and a church and friends and family and a way to give myself to the world and its people that I haven't quite figured out yet. I want to figure all of that out right! this! second! I want, I want, I want to know.
But more than wanting to know sometimes is the urge to just fall flat on my face and hibernate until all of this is figured out. I'm so anxious and excited within the mundane of my every day that I feel paralyzed. I am not getting stuff done that I need to get done. I keep stumbling toward the future in my head, my head that cannot know exactly what's coming. Or I keep checking Twitter. Or doing something else so totally millenial that countless others, older and wiser, will scoff at me and say I'm being so impatient, so wasteful, so unappreciative of time, of what I have right now. I'll probably come back and read this post in 15+ years and agree with them. Hell, the rational part of me agrees right this second. I'm sure you agree too, God, but I'm sure you're also smiling at me, deeply and fully, because you know me, and you know my humanness, you know that my brain twists my stomach when I can't have control.
This week for school I read Writing a Woman's Life by Carolyn Heilbrun, written in 1988, the year I turned one. A lot struck me about it, most of all this paragraph toward the end:
"We women have lived too much with closure: 'If he notices me, if I marry him, if I get into college, if I get this work accepted, if I get that job' - there always seems to loom the possibility of something being over, settled, sweeping clear the way for contentment. This is the delusion of a passive life. When the hope for closure is abandoned, when there is an end to fantasy, adventures for women will begin. Endings... are for romance or for daydreams, but not for life. One hands in the long-worked-on manuscript only to find that another struggle begins..." (Heilbrun 130)
There's a LOT to unpack in that clump of sentences, but all I could think the first time I read it was: Ooh. She got me. Maybe I am seeking closure* - I want to know how everything will turn out, what it will be like, what I will be like. And my daydreamy self sometimes expects it to be that solid: "sweeping clear the way for contentment." Ah, what a deep-breath thought. But I know that's not the way. I know because I've lived up until now. Life doesn't rest, and I wouldn't want it to. One moment slips into another...
It is in that reminder, that re-realization where I hear you speak, God - Child, you may not have full control, but you do have choices. You have choices over the small things that you can manage in each seemingly mundane day - you're just too impatient to make them, to do them. But it is those choices, those small movements, that will nudge you into the life you will make for yourself.
When I think about it, I don't think I truly want closure in everything. I do want to make that life for myself, like I have done, like I will do. But the things I am so looking forward to are part of making that life - they come from my choices - marriage, manuscript, many little things that will form the days. And that's what I'm itching for, I think - to see those choices in action, live them in new ways. In this waiting limbo, I probably won't stop itching for them. Sometimes I'll probably feel the anticipation and anxiety more than ever. But I also have to realize that even the time it takes to begin - yes, even the waiting - is part of living into the choice. Getting stuck in traffic is part of getting home. And there are beautiful views along the way.
Thanks, God. For reminding me, for remembering me, for renewing me.
*"Closure! That's what it is, that's what I need, God, you're brilliant!" - Rachel Green, The One Where Ross Finds Out. I had to quote a non-academic source, too. And God, you are brilliant - even though I don't think that's what she meant.