Monday, February 15, 2010
TAKING REFUGE IN BOOKS
I have been a bad blogger, and bad blogging friend, since the beginning of the year. Rather than blogging and commenting, I have been reading. I have read 17 books since the beginning of the year, and have reviewed all but two on my book blog, "Julie's Bookshelf". (http://www.juliesbookshelf.blogspot.com/).
The latest book I reviewed was "Acedia: Monks, Marriage and Me" by Kathleen Norris. In my review, I printed this quote from the book:
"We may look to physicians or therapists, when our lives go off track, or we may pray the Psalms, or take refuge in a favorite novel. But in a sense we are all seeking the same thing. We want to prepare a good soil where grace can grow; we want to regard the cracks and fissures in ourselves with fresh eyes, so that they may be revealed not merely as the cause or the symptom of our misery but also as places where the light of promise shines through."
~ "Acedia and Me", Kathleen Norris
When my life has gone off track in the past I have looked to both physicians and therapists, and they have responded, first with the little pill called Prozac prescribed by my GP, then with Celexa prescribed by a psychiatrist, plus counseling provided by a social worker and light box therapy to combat my SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). And all have helped in the past.
But now, I have no insurance, which means that I continue with the Celexa on a maintenance schedule, thankfully at a relatively low cost. I had a physician's med check a couple of months ago, but there are no more visits with psychiatrists or social workers.
I wish that praying the Psalms helped me, as it does with "Acedia and Me" author Kathleen Norris. But while I do consider myself a spiritual being I suffered a crisis of faith a couple of years ago and now am not quite sure how to categorize myself along the spectrum of faith and religion. But even so, in previous times my prayers always consisted of begging: "God, please GIVE ME . . . "
Although I did not consciously think of it that way until reading "Acedia and Me", perhaps what I have been doing since the New Year is "taking refuge in a novel" (or non-fiction reading).
This year, at least, I do not know any other way to proceed. To live with SAD in any year is to be bound up in a cocoon not of one's making. As a newspaper reporter in the 1990s, I well remember lifestyle guru Faith Popcorn's concept of cocooning - a return to home and hearth.
With most cocoons, one expects for the occupant to eventually burst forth into vibrant spring as a butterfly. But this year, the cocoon binds me up. It chokes me and threatens the very essence of my life.
I have been unemployed for eight months. The onset of winter this year signaled not only the sadness inherent in the term SAD, but also the panic of ever being employed again at the ripe old age of 60.
In the many, many days since I last had a meaningful job, I have done all the things I ever wanted to do given some time off. I have cleaned, and sorted, and thrown away. I can no longer garden. Art is lost to me. TV is indeed that "vast wasteland". What writing I have done is confined to Blogger. I have discovered the ennui of unoccupied days, and the despair of anything ever being "right" or "normal" again.
So now I fill the void with books, and by writing about them, I hope to leave some sort of mark - the wild animal's spoor, as it were - that I did exist in this vast arboreal forest in the dead time, the dead season; that there was indeed life inside the cambrium if not in the bark.
All I can hope is that grace has been growing in me all these days, and that it will come to fruition with the return of the light. I am trying mightily to "prepare a good soil where grace can grow".