Thursday, July 4, 2013

Sorting on a contemplative Independence Day

I'm having a moody day, if you wondered. Holidays and special days bring out the bleak, morose side of this girl. I can't reason or even pray myself out of it sometimes; this life is just heavy. I was sorting books, trying to decide which to keep and which to send away, when I happily rediscovered Anne Morrow Lindbergh's Gift from the Sea. It's a gem, and as timelessly appropriate now as it was when published in the 50s. At least it is still appropriate for me, being still in a traditional non-earning wifely role... But I suspect it'll strike a chord even in most formally employed women.

I found myself flipping through the pages, skimming earnestly in search of a passage that had resounded so strongly with me when I first read the work. I found it after intent scanning (thankfully, the book is a slim volume at best). I share it with you here because, unbelievably, I could not find it anywhere else on the Web.

Here is a strange paradox. Woman instinctively wants to give, yet resents giving herself in small pieces. Basically is this a conflict? Or is it an over-simplification of a many-stranded problem? I believe that what woman resents is not so much giving herself in pieces as giving herself purposelessly. What we fear is not so much that our energy may be leaking away through small outlets as that it may be going "down the drain." We do not see the results of our giving as concretely as man does in his work. In the job of home-keeping there is no raise from the boss, and seldom praise from others to show us we have hit the mark. Except for the child, woman's creation is so often invisible, especially today. We are working at an arrangement in form, of the myriad disparate details of housework, family routine, and social life. It is a kind of intricate game of cat's-cradle we manipulate on our fingers, with invisible threads. How can one point to this constant tangle of household chores, errands, and fragments of human relationships, as a creation? It is hard even to think of it as purposeful activity, so much of it is automatic. Woman herself begins to feel like a telephone exchange or a laundromat.

Purposeful giving is not as apt to deplete one's resources; it belongs to that natural order of giving that seems to renew itself even in the act of depletion...

And that is where I find myself today: Watching as I swirl down the drain. There I go, hurrying away in my purposeless busy-ness. No worries—it's probably just peri-menopause knocking on my door.

On a side note, I wonder how much longer Independence Day will be observed before it is found to be offensive to some small minority of interlopers here?

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