“I’m fine with being strange, but I’m tired of people telling me I’m strange.” Carolyn Hax
“For some of us, books are as important as almost anything else on earth. What a miracle it is that out of these small, flat, rigid squares of paper unfolds world after world after world, worlds that sing to you, comfort and quiet or excite you. Books help us understand who we are and how we are to behave. They show us what community and friendship mean; they show us how to live and die.”
― Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life
In a very simplistic way I was thinking of this last night, as my mind was spinning with work-related ideas, and I was trying to grasp them before they spun away into the ether and eluded me today during my writing time.
I knew that I needed to shut it down if I was going to be any good today – if I was going to make good use of those ideas that I had.
And so I escaped into a book.
A fluffy book, but one that I dove into and that took me away from my small apartment, quieted my mind, and reminded me to look up and out.
I spend a lot of time in introspection, thinking, reading. I don’t spend a lot of time looking up and out. Books are one way my mind travels, goes elsewhere.
As a child, I fell into books.
Or, as Rebecca Solnit more eloquently wrote, “…I disappeared into books when I was very young…” (from her essay Flight)
I started reading Grit last week and was immediately drawn in.
I’ve always thought of myself as a plodder. I’ve never been the best or brightest. Near the top, yes, but not at the top. Doing good work but not truly excelling. There’s something to be said for persistence and perseverance (why can I never spell that correctly the first time??). I, like many, feel less than when I compare myself to my more-accomplished peers.
And yet, I feel more comfortable with myself personally and professionally than I have in a long time. If I had pursued my initial passion and succeeded… if I had been a rising star instead of someone just plugging along, I might have missed what my true passion is.
It’s taken a fair amount of wandering around – not in the wilderness, maybe, but in the upper Midwest, which may be a form of the wilderness? I was sharing my “trajectory” with someone yesterday and realized that where I was with my ideas and thinking and conceptualizations when I started is nowhere near where I am now. And I like where I am now much, much better. I love what I do. I have a passion for it. So in a way I’m grateful that I didn’t succeed right away, as that might have shifted me onto a path for which I would have had less passion.
For me, having that passion and that drive is more essential than succeeding rapidly. I’ll get there. Eventually.
Everyone seems to do this in the “blog world”, and I don’t consider myself a full-fledged member of that community. But still, it’s a great way to look back at the week and focus on the positive. So here goes…
1. Sunny and rainy spring days. Let me clarify here – not rainy all day, March-like days, but rather summer storms (which is what we’re having today and tonight). You can’t have sunshine all of the days – more than not would be nice! – but if I’m going to have rain, this is the kind of rain I like!
2. A productive week on the work front, thanks to summer break (ha, not for me…) and making significant progress conceptualizing and presenting my most recent proposal.
3. Coworkers who really care and who really help. Especially my next-door office neighbor, who has been just wonderful. It makes me realize that I am in the right place for me.
4. Good health care. From my therapist to my other docs, it’s just such a relief to have this. Of course, EVERYONE should have it, but I’m hopeful we’ll (eventually) get there. Just not in this administration…
5. Actually giving myself grace to shut it down Wednesday when I came home sick. I changed and laid on the couch and napped and felt so much better after just an hour down. I felt hideous Wednesday morning and wound up heading out of work about 10. Horrible stomach ache and pain and I just could not get it to go away. Usually I’d power through, but I actually did what was right for my body this time. Astonishing! 🙂
6. OK, one more… anti-frizz air dry cream. So superficial, but so awesome. My suddenly wavy hair (what IS this pre-menopause stuff?) is grateful. So am I.
I’m working all weekend, but that’s life on the tenure track. Time to buckle down for my Friday working-at-home (plus some food prep and a doc appt, of course).