Fear–so what?

May 17, 2007

The title of this post is a paraphrase of a thought shared by Elizabeth Gilbert’s guru, which I read about in her latest book, Eat Pray Love. I just finished it, and I loved every page. At first, I thought her style wasn’t quite up to my newly acquired hardcore creative nonfiction tastes, but as I found myself drawn quite effortlessly through the pages I realized that it was not a book to be read as heavy lifting for one’s literary chops. It’s more of a book to read when you really need to expand your sense of what is possible in the world while laughing out loud pretty much every other page. It’s a book to read when you’ve been doing other kinds of heavy emotional lifting and you just need to live a little vicariously through somebody else’s spirtual adventures. And to fantasize about going to Italy for four months just to eat. In other words, it was just the right book for my mother-in-law to loan me last weekend.

Now it’s finished, and I might be on my way to weightier things or I might not.  Possible candidates include Ender’s Game, The Adventures of Kavalier and Clay (for the second attempt), and Song of Solomon. Or possibly this book I got at the library called How to Become a Freelance Writer. (Didn’t I already read this book when I was like 9? Have I made no progress in the ensuing 14 years?) Because as much as I love to read, I’m starting to get the sense that I need to get down to some more writing. That’s a topic for another blog, but the fact that in about a month I’m going to need to survive a fiction workshop with my dignity intact has not passed me by.

So, the book was not the only good thing to come out of last weekend, which actually didn’t go quite as badly as I was fearing. To recap, because I haven’t gone into great detail on this blog, last weekend was going to be my first face to face encounter with the sis in law since the accident and the revelation. I will refer to these things henceforth as Bad News 1 and Bad News 2. Of course, the main cause of stress was how to interact with her, expressing my gratitude for her being alive and not too hurt by Bad News 1 while the knowledge of Bad News 2 shoved its way to the front of my brain at all times. To my surprise, it came quite naturally. She was in good spirits and it was easy to find little things to do for her to make her life easier as she hobbled from home to car and back to home. I was genuinely glad to see her.  We managed to put off the having the talk re: Bad News 2 until late Sunday evening, after having spent the afternoon spent doing our best to create the kind of epicurean ambience Ms. Gilbert creates in Eat Pray Love by opening both bottles of D’s dad’s birthday wine and whipping up some delicious alio e oglio pasta if I do say so myself. And when we did have the talk, we somehow found ways to express our thoughts and feelings and still not come off as out of control, raving for no good reason older siblings. We talked for a good long time, and I felt like I had said most of what I had wanted to say. I have pretty grave doubts that she actually heard any of it, but that’s another issue and one I have no control over. Her decision is still very much her own to make and I have done all that I can to help her make a good one. A good one–as if I even knew exactly what that was. I don’t, but I’m also pretty sure she doesn’t either. Now, I think in one of my former, more trusting lives I would have prayed about this with some kind of open-ended attitude, ie: “I know this is in your hands, oh God whoever you are out there, and I trust that you are looking after things for the best.” In my current somewhat paranoid life, my prayer is more like, “God could you please give this young’un a serious ass-kicking because she doesn’t know up from down right now and I think her parents would be pissed if I did the ass-kicking for you.”

In other fear news, I often get paranoid that D is not looking for a job quite as hard as he should be, and I have taken to setting up schedules for him and inquiring as to the status of the action items I have assigned. Keep in mind that I am the same person who recently criticized her mother-in-law for being too controlling.  So add that to the fear tally too–that I am becoming not only my mother but also my mother-in-law.

So, this week, I’m kind of in between a lot of muddled feelings and plans of action. This is probably part of the reason why I responded so strongly to Eat Pray Love. It’s a pretty good story about a woman who doesn’t really know where she’s going but can from time to time see a sort of next step to take. Or just a way to spend this present moment. That’s a good description of how I’d like to be, rather than simply a collection of anxieties about things that aren’t currently happening. I’d like to acknowledge my fear and then do whatever the hell I’m thinking about doing anyway. Even when that doesn’t seem possible, I’m going to try to keep in mind the words of Ms. Gilbert’s guru. I’m afraid. So what?

For the next couple of hours, that includes doing a yoga video and drinking some wine even though the budget Nazi in my head says that unemployed people have no business drinking wine. D’s put in a solid day of job hunting and I’m hatching plans to get this writing part of my life in gear. Getting from plans to action will have to be my next trick pretty soon, but I think the yoga and wine are going to help with that.

(This is kind of a rambling post and might not make so much sense if you don’t know what Bad News 2 is, but oh well. I’m trying to get that standards bar down nice and low so I feel up for posting every day again, because I miss it!)

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