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Sunday, May 23, 2010

Me too!

Plunging into Joan Didion's The Year of Magical Thinking last night/this morning (strangely enough, six years later on the dot from when her year of magical thinking began- May 20 2004!) shifted, supported and strengthened my own recent perspectives on loss. Any person that has lost somebody they love deeply, in any capacity, will nod their head empathetically to her exploration of the grieving process. Although her experiences were far more tragic than anything I've undergone, naturally, I keep comparing my own symptoms of loss to hers. Anger turned sadness. Guilt. The "waves". Forgetting to breathe. Deep reminiscent states, with randomly selected recollections. Bouts of paralysis. Throat choking.

I've learned to welcome spontaneous, slowly swelling tears. I no longer make silly excuses to go to the bathroom to cry at work ("drank too much tea", "my allergies are killing me", etc.). Friends and family are quick to advise that "it gets better day by day", which is incomprehensible when you're overpowered by the same miserable feeling day after day. I choose to interpret this, instead (here's the pragmatic side of me kicking in), as: the next day brings you more distant from the pivotal decisive breaking point... And that the memory will get more blurry (or "mudgy" as Didion refers to it) and eventually you will forget. I remember, in some Anthro class, learning about Charles Lyell's contribution to Geology- "the gift of time". His is a name that instinctively pops up when I think of time or change.

Lyell theorized slow-moving forces that have always been present shaped, and continue to shape, the world. Although he wasn't entirely wrong, he didn't give too much credit to the unforeseeable, dramatic shifts that also serve as a springboard for change. For now, I will focus on the unobservable facts that somewhere there are tectonic plates converging, water levels rising, the earth is rotating and I am "healing". Facts help when there is so much uncertainty. I guess Didion, at some point, felt the same way:

"In time of trouble, I had been trained since childhood, read, learn, work it up, go to the literature. Information was control" (p. 44).


I wrote the above yesterday, May 21, hoping to rework the post when I had a more focused moment. Since then, I've finished the book, and smiled to see that on page 190 Didion writes:

After a few years of failing to find meaning in more commonly recommended venues I learned that I could find it in geology, so I did. This in turn enabled me to find meaning in the Episcopal litany, most acutely in the words as it was in the beginning, is now and every shall be, world without end, which I interpreted as a literal description of the constant changing of the earth, the unending erosion of the shores and mountains, the inexorable shifting of the geological structures that could throw up mountains and islands and could just as reliably take them away.

Me, too, Joan Didion!! Post complete.

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I'm an LA transplant now living in Brooklyn. I develop film projects by day, write at night, and have a dangerous predilection for vintage Robinson Golluber scarves- this blog serves as a tiny window to everything else I do when I'm not satisfying those first three passions. I'm trying to blog more and tweet less @annabelleqv. What about you?


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