The week has been a busy one, leaving me feeling scattered. Adrift.
Last night, we went to the Iron Pour at the Steelyard and stared at fires burning in the darkness. The moon was nearly full, and bright.
We are being warned against an approaching storm. We have made no preparations.
The list of what is expected of me is endless. Instead of moving through it, I turn one or two things over in my mind, resolving nothing.
But maybe: I think I might let my hair go gray.
I think I might start wearing more sensible shoes.
I have started reading In Search of Lost Time as part of a Proust reading group at the Providence Athenaeum. I am already behind. I have never read it before and was surprised (despite the title) at its rather rapturous desire to concern itself - fully and sensuously - with the past. To describe sensations of longing, of loss. It calls up in me this perhaps naive realization that we can find the books we need (or they can find us?) when we need them. Which is to say that we process our experiences with art through a particular lens at a particular moment, and its resonance with us, its power can be wholly tied to that moment in our lives: We allow an opening just wide enough for a particular work to enter us.
It was difficult to drag myself from bed this morning. When I woke it was still dark and our son had just padded in, wedged his small warm body between us. But after lying there for a few minutes, willing myself up, I rose and came downstairs to sit here, stare at the stacks of books and papers, and attempt to begin something.
I am reminded of Mary Ruefle’s “On Beginnings,” from her excellent collection of lectures on craft, Madness, Rack, and Honey.
“We begin in admiration and we end by organizing our disappointment.”
It is fair to describe this as an “astonishing” idea. How it encapsulates not only our experience of writing, but of living and loving. We start with a fantasy of what our lives might be, of what our love might be, and as we grow in our “knowingness,” the best we can do is to organize what we know and name it. In this way, we lend it dignity. In this way, despite whatever distance it has wandered from its starting point or from our own expectations, however inarticulate they may have been, we can imbue it - all of it - with a kind of grace.
I hear footsteps in the hallway upstairs. I hear my son giggling in bed. It is light now.
You might think I would know better than to have expectations for this day. But a quiet hour of reading and of staring out the window has lifted me and I’ll begin again in admiration, imagining possibility.
I will try to leave myself open to whatever grace might come.