Thursday, February 28, 2008

Settle down

My little inner voice is telling me to slow down today. No more bunnies, no more owls, let the orange sweater sit--it will be there tomorrow. I've been kidding myself that I've really been resting as I should. I think that as long as my butt's parked on the bed I can tell everyone I really am taking it easy and I'll be better soon.

But my body knows the truth, and this restless search for the next thing to make, ways to increase my sales, when the next big show is and what is everyone else up to isn't getting me anywhere except keyed up. It's not even the direction I mean to take, or the underlying point to what my knitting is really all about.

Today is different for some reason. Like a horse that finally succumbs to the saddle or a child who quiets after a thirty minute tantrum, I've put away the yarn and needles, turned off the t.v. and picked up one of my favorite books that I re-read every few years because it's just that good.

The title is Dakota: A Spiritual Geography written by Kathleen Norris. In it she writes about her life in western South Dakota in such a poetic way that it draws me in and makes me want to book a trip. She doesn't sugar coat the hardships people face there, or paint a romantic, unrealistic picture. Rather she's quite frank and honest while still reverent, capturing it's physical beauty in a way that astounds me from a writer's perspective.

I didn't grow up in a small town like the one she describes in the book but now find myself living in one. Despite it's growth and newcomers/outsiders like myself, it still has much of the charm, character and social complexities of small town life. I bring this up because ever since I've been sick, it seems the much of the community knows. Even the kids wonderful, want-to-keep-her-forever bus driver was giving me tips this morning on what to do to get better.

Kevin and the kids went to church last night for Wednesday night supper and choir practice as per our usual routine. Kevin returned and said as he did last week, "everyone asked about you. I told them you were still wretched."

"Gee thanks" I said, "what do you mean everybody?"


"Like who?"

"Everybody!" (forever resistant to elaboration)

This stirs up an uneasy feeling in me. While it's nice to be thought of and know that people are concerned, it's unsettling to a girl who finds it and more comfortable to fade into the background and observe, rather than be the subject of observation. But in a small church and a small town it's hard to hide, especially when you tow with you the whirlwind that is three young, exhuberant outgoing children everywhere you go.

I take no offense to being the subject of conversation, nor do I think anyone is speaking ill of me, at least if they are they're not saying anything to Kevin. I'm just somehow under the illusion that I can participate without being noticed, blend in with the crowd and escape when necessary. The strange dichotomy of wanting attention but being unsettled once I have it.

All this to say, gossip is the title of a chapter in Dakota and it's one that hasn't left my mind from the first time I read it years ago. I'll share my favorite excerpt here:

"Like the desert tales that monks have used for centuries as a basis for a theology and way of life, the tales of small-town gossip are often morally instructive, illustrating the ways ordinary people survive the worst that happens to them; or, conversely, the ways in which self-pity, anger, and despair can overwhelm and destroy them. Gossip is theology translated into experience. In it we hear great stories of conversion, like the drunk who truns his or her life around, as well as stories of failure. We can see that pride really does go before a fall, and that hope is essential. We watch closely those who retire, or who lose a spouse, lest they lose interest in living. When we gossip we are also praying, not only for them but for ourselves."

If she's right, if gossip is a form of prayer, I'll take all I can get.


Pamela said...

What a lovely post. You are too fun, vibrant, and engaging to reside in the background. And that's a good thing.

You are a topic of gossip in the most loving way among my favorite knitting buddies (me included).

Good for you for taking it easy. Robert's trying to catch up with you - he was just diagnosed with pneumonia. He acquiesced that he'll have to reschedule the 10-mile run he wanted to do tomorrow to Tuesday. Sound familiar??

patience said...

I agree...this writing, this post was SO excellent....I can VERY much relate to these feelings. I think this might be a new place, it's one I'm discovering myself. What if you do have something to offer the world that makes it impossible to hide? The offering of just being yourself...we must talk more over tea, this subject is so rich, you are on to something here...