Wednesday, March 2, 2011

February Story: Contentment don't come free.

Once upon a time there was a Reading Princess in limbo.
Woman with Book.  Pablo Picasso. 1932.
She drifted in the grayish land of shades - not exactly the kingdom of the dead, but not entirely the realm of the living either.  Part Interwebs, inhabited by new friends and mentors and kindred spirits and gadflies, and part Kingdom of Subdued Excitement, inhabited by old friends and colleagues and athletes and family and one little Ewok of a dog too.

Between worlds, RP lingered in her castle-cottage, nibbling and gobbling book after book, succumbing to the siren song of "Here, my dear.  Read this.  It's free...".  And she smiled often, languorously, at the luxury of her numbered days, her days to gather strength, her days of no attachments. 

And it seemed so peaceful there in limbo that a rather overweening voice from her psyche wheedled and whispered, "Can't we just stay? Stay in this suburban Innisfree, for the foreseeable future?" Lulled as she was by those tomes arriving in her mailbox and those upward ticks on her blogger stats and that niggling voice in her head to simply do more of the same, she knew the rub:  Money.  Making rent.  Food.  The occasional new pair of shoes, and the gym membership that she actually uses.  Even free reading and free writing don't get the bills paid.

Her wish?  That she might conjure the money to live in the same way she conjured the books.  Sitting in peace and warmth, writing and thinking and then acting in the world.

Better yet, let the money arrive magically, no effort whatsoever required.  On the wings of the sharpshin who sat gazing lustily at her chickadees this morning and started swooping over the feeders, etching its shadow over fresh snow.  It's just nature red in tooth and claw, she knew, not some portentous omen, but ole RP's not inclined to take any chances.  She'd rather fashion its arrival into the shape of her intentions, score a little old-school monetary payback for whichever of her pretties it's eaten.  A little leveler from the Universe wouldn't do any harm now, would it?

But RP knows that the Universe won't likely exchange jack for juncos; this is her real world, and magic comes of its own accord, not at her - or anyone else's - convenience.  And in her real world, she knows this time of quiet receptivity is coming to a close.  That the Cider House call 'to be of use' will soon ring clarion over the soft pulse of the wind, the squabbling of sparrows.

And in her real world, there will soon come a time to gather herself and step out into the void, to offer herself back to the world and see what comes.  And in fact, in the dwindling days of February 'the path rose up to meet her', a cause of sorts presented itself - a journey afoot, a boon to be won and brought back to the people of her kingdom.

That is March's tale. 

Stay tuned.


And to my feminist-leaning friends out there: Yes, I know that the hero's journey's a monomyth and perhaps, in some ways, masculine.  But what rockstar fictional super-heroine wouldn't appropriate whatever model's necessary to change her world?  RP's one of those, and she borrows liberally from many traditions, inhabiting any myth that does the job and changing it Anansi-wise as she spins.  A little Pandora, a little Penelope, a little Persephone, a little RP.

If you'd like to see what I - the action reader - personally accomplished in February, which is PLENTY, despite the tale above (crafting a narrative from life events has proven to be as much about what one leaves out as what one puts in)...

Lest her February story mislead us into believing that RP's done nothing but sit, here are a few of the non-reading things she did (because the action habit still works, even on the seriously sedentary):
1. She visited the Albuquerque Art Museum - a just-the-right-size sort of place, where you can stroll the whole building and leave sated but not exhausted. (The Memory Palace action.)
2. She picked a patron saint:  Francis, for his surpassing love for all beings, his belief in action walking the words, and for his namesake city.  And for her Patronus: Batgirl. (House of Cards action)
3. She cooked a cassoulet. (Kitchen Confidential action)
4. She created a handful of funny-fun bloghop ideas, which she's just about ready to forward off to The Blue Bookcase and The Broke and the Bookish. (House of Cards action)
5. She sat in on a thought-provoking discussion of how to cultivate expertise alongside teens in school, and used the ideas while drafting Reading for Change/Action Readers curriculum. (Fires in the Mind action)
6. She intensified her attention to recent developments in the Middle East by referencing her recent review of the history of Israel & Palestine. (The Lemon Tree action)
7. She looked up two childhood friends, one of whom happens to have turned out to be a nationally renowned art history professor who's known as Dr. Lori, and has even been on The Jon Stewart Show.  Who knew?  And the other still lives back in CT w/his wife.  He's written an article about population trends in striped bass.  Chalk another one up for google searches and for the mojo of this action habit: Inquiry opens. (Jellicoe Road action)
8.  She planned good eats - Momofuku and Greengrass and the Acme and Joe's Pizza and Zabar's, here we come! - and good facade-ing for NYC. (Kitchen Confidential and Gideon's Sword actions)
9.  She watched videos of Falan Gong and attempted it a little in her living room.  Enjoyable, but awkward as all new undertakings... Next step: See if it's taught in her town. (Gideon's Sword action)
10.  She started checking all her purchases for PVC and aluminum: So far, she's brought none of the stuff into her house, and has rid herself of what's out and obvious and what's in her personal possession.  She'll likely uncover more as her de-cluttering campaign continues... (The Story of Stuff action)
11. She started screening all purchases for necessity vs. desire.  A worthwhile practice, and she's become much more comfortable asking to borrow items for short-term use and to offer exchanges as well: everybody wins! (The Story of Stuff action)
12. She began the probably lifelong task of getting straight with herself about hypocrisy.  Her reflections led in part to this month's story, and to a stronger push next month to balance more actions that serve the world with the prodigious navel gazing skills she's honed this February. (Georgia Bottoms action)
And finally, three happy general results:
1.  She followed her own resolve to narrow her actions and thus still achieved much (see above, no?) without overwhelming herself.

2. She doubled her followers - and thus the reach of her reading-for-change mission -, and created two new features to support that mission (Sunday 'runes & tunes' and weekly 'hip to be reading' or 'word news').

3. She found quite a few kindred, cyber-questing spirits on blogs she hopped to or found via The Millions.
Go, Interwebs!


1 comment:

llevinso said...

Laurie, I really liked this post. Just thought you should know ;)

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