Choosing your own life

CAM00232So yesterday I spent a bunch of time beating myself up for writing that blogpost. For whining. But as often happens, my whining elicited a flurry of emails of support and affirmation and encouragement. In one, several passages from Thomas Merton, including this one:

“The purpose of education is to show us how to define ourselves authentically and spontaneously in relation to our world—not to impose a prefabricated definition of the world, still less an arbitrary definition of ourselves as individuals. The world is made up of the people who are fully alive in it: that is, of the people who can be themselves in it and can enter into a living and fruitful relationship with each other in it. The world is, therefore, more real in proportion as the people in it are able to be more fully and more humanly alive: that is to say, better able to make a lucid and conscious use of their freedom. Basically, this freedom must consist first of all in the capacity to choose their own lives, to find themselves on the deepest possible level. A superficial freedom to wander aimlessly here and there, to taste this or that, to make a choice of distractions … is simply a sham. It claims to be a freedom of ‘choice’ when it has evaded the basic task of discovering who it is that chooses. It is not free because it is unwilling to face the risk of self-discovery.” -Thomas Merton

It would be really cool to be the novelist I dream of being — the Edmonds, Washington, version of Anne Tyler, or a kick-ass, take-no-prisoners historical novelist (since that seems my genre) like Geraldine Brooks. But getting to wake each morning and write, that’s the number one, real dream. That’s what I’m doing. Okay, and hanging out with Emma and Mom…and staying married.

Being “fully and more humanly alive….[making] a lucid and conscious use of [my] freedom.” That’s the goal.



2 replies
  1. Donata
    Donata says:

    I love this. I woke up at 4:30 this morning wondering where my inspiration, my zest for living went and how to get it back. This resonates fully: Being “fully and more humanly alive….[making] a lucid and conscious use of [my] freedom.” That’s the goal.

  2. Carolynne Harris
    Carolynne Harris says:

    Big Magic – E Gilbert reminds us of the importance of curiosity all my life I’ve been curious and just thought I was snoopy. You suggested I listen to her read her book – I finished it on the plane yesterday – I’ve listened to every chapter twice already. So like all the writers say write, grab the idea, write it down or Ann Patchett may grab it up first. Thanks for telling me so I can tell you back.


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