Thursday, August 9, 2012

I consider my difficulties.


My current difficulties stem from these realities:

1) The world is so full of a number of things
    I'm sure we should all be as happy as kings.
     This rhyme has played in my head a million times since I learned it as a little girl. Maybe even then I suspected in my childish way the layers of truth in the sing-song, the irony of too-muchness.

2) I have been traveling a lot, and that brings me into contact with even more numbers of "things," like real people, people in books, ideas in books, and new places I've visited. This summer, for example, I sat on airplanes for more than ten hours, and many of those hours were spent in the company of Alain de Botton as I read his book The Art of Travel. As I drifted off to sleep at night in a house not my own, I was soaking up the coastal delights of George Howe Colt's childhood summer place, The Big House.

In the spaces between these literary adventures my more physical self was learning to reach right instead of left for a stirring spoon, and to relax in the hot tub of the Eastern summer atmosphere.

3) I need -- o.k., I feel the need! -- to write about at least some of the experiences in order to process the information and be restored from the overload/exhaustion of so much excitement. As Alain and I were musing together over the meaning of our travels, I scribbled notes in the margins and made a list in the back of the book of all the blog post ideas that were generated from our "discussion." Every night for a week or two I have spent at least fifteen minutes writing and rewriting in my mind, in the dark, my review of the Colt book.

Even Archimandrite Sophrony is reported to have said, "Arrange whatever pieces come your way." I don't know what the context of this quote was, but the urge is a basic, human, compelling one, and applies to just about everything I know.

The Milky Way
4) When I am on the trip, just returned from a trip, or packing my bags and boxes to set off again, there is less time than ever for this kind of writing, and also less mental energy. When I hear Thomas Mann say, "A writer is somebody for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people," I feel that I am certainly one of those. I could coin my own saying: "A homemaker-writer with a large family is somebody for whom writing is even more more more difficult than it is for other people."

I hope I am not complaining, by using the word difficulties. I could say challenges, or pieces. Or thoughts, as in "Bring every thought captive to Christ." In my mind I have more challenging pieces of thoughts and prayers and connections to be made than there are dust bunnies floating up and down the stairs.

This morning it all seemed too much, as I add another item to the list of things that make us happy as kings: We are going to the cabin! There will be stimulating conversation on the way, as our numbers will be doubled by the presence of our dear Art and Herm. (That will add pieces, to be sure.)

Stars will shine crisply in the black sky at night, and in the mornings chipmunks will scurry in the brush below the house. Humans will eat cookies and bacon and drink coffee on the deck while we watch the hummingbirds squabble, and we'll paddle our canoe quietly over the lake.

(Past posts about our Sierra cabin: 2009  2010  and  2011 )

Though I have picked up only a few pieces here to tie in my bundle, it's been quite comforting. Now I can face my lists of more practical things like dinner menus, shopping needs, and what to put in my book bag. That won't be too difficult.

11 comments:

Pom Pom said...

I do love it when you go up to the cabin. Cabins are such a delightful thinking subject for me.
You've had a great family summer, GJ! You are blessed!

Gumbo Lily said...

I've always loved the quote too, but only learned it when reading rhymes to my own children, but I'm glad I learned it. You have so many, many things to be grateful for. Your busy days have been blessed days, yes?

Emily J. said...

I look forward to your thoughts on The Art of Travel - enjoyed it too. I sympathize with the "This is something I want to write about. . . . as soon as I can get to it." Which is usually after I forget it - or how it was that I was going to say it.

Enjoy your vacation.

M.K. said...

Oh, my brain understands what your brain is feeling. We have missed you here at your blog, but I know you've been doing important things. Sometimes, the sheer weight of all the thoughts that need tidying in our brains, causes me slightly to panic. I'm afraid one will slip out my ear, or get buried under the rest, when it's the most important one. I simply have to trust that the most important ideas will simply rise to the top on their own and show themselves for consideration. Blogging does help. With relief, I check off one more thing that has been consigned to "paper" and I don't have to keep it in the brain anymore. Happy brain organizing! It sounds like you have your work cut out for you!

Left-Handed Housewife said...

What I love about travel is all the new ideas, images, and insights it gives you to ponder. What's always disappointing to me is that when I get home, my pondering energy seems to dissipate.

Enjoy your time at the cabin. It sounds lovely, especially the part about hummingbirds and eating bacon!

xofrances

magsmcc said...

You see, now I need to go away and arrange all the pieces that you give me!

Marfa said...

Summer nights looking at the stars are wonderful ♥ That's a great quote by Archimandrite Sofrony...pieces in our life!!!

wayside wanderer said...

I cross stitched that "happy as kings" saying once and gave it to a friend. She has it hanging in her school room. I like your thoughts on writing. I am a thinker and often writing is frustrating difficult because I cannot articulate that way as well as I can by merely thinking.

Sara said...

Paddling a canoe quietly over the lake is calling to me...

Jo said...

I hear you on the existential angst being more difficult to bear than the practical realities of daily life. I think one of the joys of writing is arranging thoughts and experiences into a story. Once your life is a story, it has meaning, and that's what we are all grasping for, isn't it? A way to imbue our lives with meaning..

llasblog said...

I hear you! We just spent six weeks in very different places in the US, most of them home in one way or another. The trip involved four plane flights totaling 26 hours, plus airport time, of course. I think I'll purchase Alain de Botton for the Christmas trip.

But mostly I hear you on the too-muchness. Everyone needs time to process, or it catches up with you. It doesn't mean the trip doesn't make you as happy as a king, just that even kings (or maybe especially kings) need to know why they do what they do.

And welcome back!