Friday, June 8, 2012

A Much-Needed Elegance

In a novel I read recently, a line struck me and still does. "There is," says the line, "a certain elegance to absence." Unlike most lines that I remember from books, this one was neither profound nor beautiful. Instead, there was a practicality to it that appealed to me.

The book was about a woman who leaves New York for Argentina after a divorce, and the two other women she meets there. I could tell you more about the character who the line concerns, a Viennese woman who has tried her best to wrangle her way into a career which will allow her to continue to live her life of attending parties where she will meet and sleep with men who don't care about her, a woman whose hair color and obsession with body waxing trump the need to eat. She attended every party she could find, understanding the fact that sometimes not going to a party was a more powerful statement than going, but not being able to resist the lure of feeling not so very alone.

All of this, as usual, is inconsequential information. The book, as it turns out, was ultimately a flop.

More of use to you would be knowing what state I was in when I read the line. I had just started a new medication to treat the fatigue and lethargy I'd been immersed in for almost a year at that point. And to boot, my very dear friend was in the hospital, very, very ill. It was a bad time. I'd been missing a lot of things, and felt even more that whatever I'd worked for (mostly in terms of my career and social life) was gone forever, that somehow I would have to start from scratch.

The line basically relieved me of this, by making my involuntary non-participation an attractive sign of restraint.

Friend is not in the hospital, and I am feeling much, much better. The weight of illness gone, the line still resides with me as I enter a new funny stage of growth. Again, I have been forced to realign my goals and dreams and intentions due to things that seem to be outside of my control. Rejection does not follow you like sickness does, but it does sort of render your intentions slightly more porous. On the one hand, it is exhilarating. I feel as though with each rejection, any acceptance will be that much more powerful, meaningful. Give me an inch, I dare you, and see me take my mile. On the other hand, it does pull aside the curtain on a latent sense of inadequacy, that I haven't had the luxury of acknowledging until now, if only because I've been too busy, and things, for better or for worse, have been working out in a way that is easier for me to understand or equate with progress.

As I've been making attempts at resurrecting my own Presence as a person, an artist, I am getting frustrated very easily with my own clumsiness. This before had been Just Who I Am, but now it's a sign of General Inadequacy. My friends have commented that I've been down on myself lately, calling myself a Loser, etc. This, in my mind, has been a half-joke, meant in part to relieve some of the tension I've built up in my head. Sure I don't think I'm a loser, but at times I wonder if I'll ever be able to do the things I want to do, or whether I am just entertaining some fabulous illusion...

My clumsiness and general self-annoyance is increasing and I'm reaching a point where I just need to get out. I'm proud of myself for realizing this before. I need to get back to basics and listen to myself for a little while. This will be good. And just when I think that I'm leaving for too long, or that it might be harder to gain any momentum when I return, I realize that I am very much in need of some elegance right now. This trip will be a much-needed elegance.