27 August 2008

A new assessment?

I started imagining my life as if a certain thing had not changed around when I turned 40. Immediately I recognized something I felt in blogging: recognizing that there are all of these people whose paths have turned out a little differently here and there until we see we're living in parallel universes with our lives unspooling equally rapidly before each one of us.

For in everyone we notice online or recognize in a blog entry or empathize with or even get peeved with, we notice something: an expectation each of us has of the world, the Other, our own selves, or d) all of the above. And we really notice it, I think, when we go out and explore what other people make of the world through their online personas. It's making me wish I could read more languages, because I think it would be so fun to learn about people beyond my own country, this particular universe I live in today.

In other news, yesterday I received a healthy reality check about some ideas for when I'm done screening films this year. Because I really do sense this urgency, this calling to do a lot right now, in the prime of my life, while my daughter is growing so she can see that for herself.

Keeping unrealistic expectations in check and staying focused were the key ingredients for my life recipe. I see it (and remember it from Nanowrimo): devoting a chunk of time to one project to move it along every day will keep me healthy, wealthy, and wise. There's a little of that Oh-I've-Been-Hiding-My-Light-Under-A-Bushel-Basket feeling in there, but mostly I feel excited to work on my novels. Both of them. Susan astonished me yesterday by asking me, “Could it be that there's a singular style of novels that is yours?” And I thought about how similar the territory was turning out to be in both of my as-yet-unfinished novels and saw how that could be true. It reminded me immediately of my neighbor asking, kind of amazed, “You mean like your story could have a social activism purpose?” His incredulity could be that such a thing could ever get beyond polemic, or that it might be possible in choosing which stories to tell and how to tell them to have an altruistic motivation for doing so.

What I saw when I looked back and then forward without this change I spoke of initially was sadder and filled with more chronic pain than I have today. I have seen so many around me continue that trend. When I realized where I was headed (maybe it was seeing one too many women on Oprah who looked like me, and felt like they couldn't keep up with their kids.

Now I find that the energy I put into this part of my life really has given back. I have become a poster child for the benefits of living well, and even find it keeps me conscious and alive and opens me up to yet other activities.

I find I don't want to identify this mysterious Thing of Which I Speak. There's too much judgment around it; it's too loaded for so many of us. I would love to spread a gospel, but all I can say is that I have served myself well (and as a result have huge compassion for those who work this hard or much harder and aren't able for whatever reason to do the same things I did).

As my life unspools before me, I see just how similar but even more how different we all are. Maybe like the Myers-Briggs personality inventory (I wonder: what's the story of those people who invented that? where are they today? how widespread is the use of this battery now?) there's some new kind of assessment (a gut-brain inventory?) that would sort us into important categories that would allow better treatment of various mental and physical health conditions. My mother's journey, other friends' and family's struggles, have all made me wonder whether there's some physical key that we simply haven't seen because we haven't looked through the right lens. Yet.

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