Sunday, March 20, 2011

Interrupted Lives

"Ultimately, we have just one moral duty: to reclaim large areas of peace in ourselves, more and more peace, and to reflect it towards others. And the more peace there is in us, the more peace there will be in our troubled world." — Etty Hillesum

I heard that quote today and felt guilty that I hadn't heard of Etty Hillesum. Esther "Etty" Hillesum was a young Jewish woman whose letters and diaries describe life in Amsterdam during the German occupation. She died in Auschwitz sometime in 1943, and her letters were published posthumously as Life Interrupted.

I heard these quotes in the context of a sermon on Nicodemus the literalist vs. Jesus the poet. I wish I was a poet. I think I should be a poet, as someone who enjoys the writing life, but in reality, I am a literalist. I ask a lot of questions, and I like to figure out answers. I'm much more straight and narrow than free and easy. Faith and mysticism do not come easily to me, and even though I show up to church every week, I find myself daydreaming a lot or looking around at the people, lost with their eyes closed, and wonder what it is that they understand that I don't. I WANT to get it, but the vast majority of time I don't. And I wonder how people who seem normal and not Jesus freaky make all of this work for them. How do people accept things on faith? I like proof. And Excel.

So, today, I was slipping in and out of the sermon, half paying attention and half making a mental list of things I want to do today: brunch, laundry, gym, job seeking, and then I heard, "You can't think yourself out of your problems." Record scratch. Um, WHAT? Does not compute. What else do you do? You think about them, and then you solve them the best you can. Right? Almost every major life decision I have made has involved a long list of pros and cons, each carefully contemplated, but here I am still, lost in transition. I keep telling YG that if I only had the time to THINK, then I would figure out what to do next, what my next steps are. We talk about each of us going away for a weekend and making lots of lists, holed up in a hotel somewhere. Or if only I could find the perfect organizational system, I would figure out my life. All practical, all logical, all literal. I have never once considered just going with my gut feeling.

I think I am going to be uncomfortable for a while. I think I have to stop thinking about what being uncomfortable means and just ride it out. I think I have to start feeling something about what I want to do other than wrestling and roller derby, and see what happens.

And I think my writing is going to suck more and be considerably less funny while I'm here. Seriously, I sound like a self-help book.

“Become simple and live simply, not only within yourself but also in your everyday dealings. Don't make ripples all around you, don't try to be interesting, keep your distance, be honest, fight the desire to be thought fascinating by the outside world.”

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