August 6, 2008
(with a few photos from my photo library)
I am at the library, writing this post. I am in town today and have had an independent and pleasant afternoon….finding some attractive old suitcases at the thrift store, enjoying a meal at a little coffee shop with sandwich and tea and cake. I reread our chapter for this week during my solitary meal, and as last week, wasn’t touched very deeply by it.
I’ve been trying to figure out what is it about these last few chapters that feels different from the first few. As June said in her insightful comment, last week’s chapter felt like AML’s sorting out of her own marital problems, and (as it seemed to me) while trying to keep it universal at the same time, which is somehow unsatisfying. This week, it felt like that again. But I know that, for others, there will be much that speaks to them within this chapter and I look forward to reading so in the comments or at others’ blogs.
Skimming through the chapter again, I realize that there is much wisdom in it, but it is not new to me and as well, isn’t speaking to what is so strongly on my mind these days. That beautiful quote from Saint-Exupery: “Love does not consist in gazing at each other, but in looking outward together in the same direction” was one I wrote in my calendar while my husband and I were courting. Amazing thought if you have never encountered it before, but not what I am seeking just now.
This quote was the most interesting to me, because I so disagreed with it! “Most people by middle age have attained, or ceased to struggle to attain, their place in the world.” AML. Struggle is the word AML uses in this chapter to describe the years of raising a family, working, making a place in a community…the years of the “oyster shell” phase. “It is a physical and material battle first of all, for a home, for children, for a place in their particular society.” AML. As I am crossing the threshold into a new phase of my life, which has begun with my eldest son living much away from home this past year, I look back to my oyster-shell years (as I did and do whilst living/finishing them) as the opposite of struggle. It was a soft and comfortable path for my barefeet, a familiar and warm cloak to pull around my shoulders, a challenging and beautiful poem to learn by heart.
This new shell (will AML have some words for me in the chapters to come?) that I have begun to have to look for, feels like it will be the Struggle for me. I am very interested to see what others have thought and felt as they lived it. Since Artful Blogging came out, I have been visiting some blogs that are new to me….and have noticed that so many of them are written by creative and fulfilled women in the deep midst of motherhood. These chronicles of life with young and middle-aged children are gorgeous and wonderful….and make me very wistful. I find myself longing for a blog or two or three to read that will give me company now that I am passing that time myself. Are there creative blogs out there that feature sons (not lovely daughters baking lovely things!) who are growing up and leaving home?
It was with this same spirit of seeking that I went to see “Mamma Mia” a few weeks ago. I took my son’s girlfriend, who was eager to see it because she loves musicals. I was eager to see it, because it was Meryl Streep as an older, vital woman (or so it seemed from the commercials!) and I was looking forward to seeing if her character would offer us a helpful picture of what that could look like. Tho’ I was surprisingly moved to quick tears during the “Dancing Queen” number (what is it about that song?), for the most part, found the women in the movie rather silly and frantic. Not something to emulate….for me, anyway.
I have been savoring my latest Lord Peter Wimsey novel (“Gaudy Night”) and have found so much to think about between its covers. So that has been my really satisfying and thought-provoking reading over the past week…..it is interesting…..I seem to be seeking a role-model these days-not to imitate, but to be inspired by, as my role in my world is changing. There were so many to be had as a young woman and a young mother-in movies and real life and, especially, in books. It will be interesting to find some for this slowly emerging chapter of my life. Any suggestions?