Yesterday Julie gave me a copy of an essay by Vivian Gornick called "What Feminism Means to Me." When she gave it to me I was in my office at school surrounded by books and papers and notes. She told me it was an essay about the ways that some women avoid work. "Clearly you're not one of them," she said. "Ah, the writer at work. I'll let you get back to it."
Me: No. Sit for a minute.
Julie: I can't. I've gotta run, but I wanted to give you this.
In the essay, Gornick writes about her hard-earned insight that "it wasn't 'work' that would save me, it was the miserable daily effort."
For me the daily effort, while often miserable, is indeed what saves me. It's the routine and at the same time the break in routine when I get lots done and come upon a terrific insight. Doesn't happen every day, but it happens enough. And then I think back to the self of just a week earlier and wonder how I could have been so naive. I'll think that about this self in a week, too.
"From the Greeks to Chekhov to Elizabeth Cady Stanton: everyone who had ever cared to investigate the nature of human loneliness had seen that only one's own working mind breaks the solitude of the self.
A hard truth to look directly into. Too hard. And that is why we yearn for love, and for community. Both laudable things to want in a life--but not to yearn for. The yearning is a killer. The yearning makes one sentimental. Sentimentality makes one romanticize."The yearning is a killer
. Um. Yeah.
Sometimes I wish I were less smart, less aware, more willing to settle. In my heart of hearts I know that it's far, far worse to be lonely in a bad relationship than it is to be lonely by myself, but that knowledge doesn't sit and stay and talk and have a beer with me. Nor does it listen.
Footnote: It's been almost a full month since classes ended. I'm so damn predictable.