Tuesday, April 7, 2009

In light of all the chaos

“In the end, we are our homes. We are the ones we wake up to in the morning, hang out with during the day, come home to at night. We hold our experience, love, and anguish within ourselves. We may live in many different places, meet many different people, but in the end, we can never escape ourselves.”

After reading Lizzie’s blog and analyzing the many highlighted quotes and underlined phrases of my book I believe the previously stated perspective encapsulates Gilbert’s message indefinitely. The struggles that she faces are none too extraordinary compared with the battles of our previous female characters this semester. There are many divorced New Yorkers, and numerous people through out the world aimlessly wanting, searching and needing to fill a void that they are inconclusive of how it showed up in the first place. But the point is not the immensity of the battle, but rather the focus lies in the destruction and the revival.

When speaking of Dave, Gilbert states; “Imagine his surprise to discover that the happiest, most confident woman he’d ever met was actually—when you got her alone—a murky hole of bottomless grief” (20). Similar to most protagonists this semester, this murky hole has generated from the inability to adapt; either from one homeland to another, or from one idea of oneself to the actuality of being.

Therefore the tone of Gilbert’s novel is a perfect combination of humor and greif because essentially it’s comically devastating how quickly our picturesque lives unravel. One tear, one pull, one caught string and the whole thing depletes to nothing. The down-comforter of our biggest dreams, and hopeful wishes deflates. The feathers lose their air, and the cloth begins to suffocate and deregulate our breathing until we are forced to rip it off.

Yet the only thing we’ve mastered is drowning in the vivid recollection of past moments—moments where the world was enchanted, and we were invincible. We are impenetrably trapped in a swirl of heartache and while it tears at us and our strings become frayed, we are more frightened of being alone or of the mess that is sure to ensue if we simply cut them loose.

So, we patch up the holes and wrap ourselves back up in our itchy blankets, hoping the texture will feel right again with time. Gilbert’s persistence in pursuing Dave is the same trick we learned as kids, shoving our feet into our favorite pair of shoes regardless of our toes forcefully pressing against the rubber soles. It’s childish, and foolish, and no matter how much we kick and scream for what we want, if we are honest with ourselves we know it’s not what we need. Yet, if we know the blanket and the shoes should be tossed, and we’re better off suiting up and charging into the unknown guns blazing, why do we hold on, white knuckles brimming at their tethered seems?

Like Gilbert we dub it a crossroads, or more coyly a “breakdown,” both poisoned with the ever treacherous internal battle of mangled emotions. Through her words you can taste the struggle of release, and staggered steps towards the future. The two are brilliantly talented at pulling us down, and shaking free every insecurity, permitting them to dance around us in un-rhythmic circles.

But in light of all the chaos, I think Gilbert’s message is that the bravest people are not the charmed who escape with a few bruises, but those who embrace what is romantically debilitating. It takes a certain and particular strength to acknowledge that we are weak, lost and damaged. The daring are those who learn to accept that they are stranded, and begin to wade their way out of the hypnotic potion of despair. Maybe as much as we detest the sting of our wounds, we are better for it. The pain reminds us that we are not dead yet. It reminds us that there is still enough time to righteously and selfishly fight for ourselves; that there is precisely enough time for happiness and the important things in life; there is exactly enough time to have “four feet on the ground, a head full of foliage, looking at the world through the heart…” (29).

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