Sufficient Unto the Day

Status report: I didn’t exactly take the day off today, but I accomplished much less than I had intended to. It’s because I’m so tired.

I get to the end of a day working on the dissertation, and honestly, I don’t know what to write here. It’s as though my brain has stopped working. As though it’s on overload.

My life is in such a liminal place right now, and I’m not good at the liminal, I think. I want to feel the ground under my feet, and right now it feels as though I’m falling through space, not quite knowing when I will land. Not quite knowing where. But on a sticky note above my desk, I’ve written two things:

What can you do?

What can you do today?

Meaning, know what you have control over and what you don’t. Do what you can do, when you can. And that’s all I can do, for now. So tonight, I’m going to try to finish revising Chapter 1, and anything I don’t finish tonight, I’ll finish tomorrow, so I can start Chapter 2 next week.

(The title of this post is of course from the Bible: “Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.” Which I would rephrase as “Sufficient onto the day is the worry thereof, and the work thereof as well.”)

There are a couple of things I can write about. The first is that today, I had a very small adventure. I went back to my favorite antiques store to look at that necklace again. And there was a table I had wanted to buy ($45). I went ahead and bought it. Here it is, at home, with a green wedgewood jasperware box on top and a silver tea chest that is a family piece on the shelf. (I need to have that tea chest repaired. There’s a silver shop on Newbury Street that has given me an estimate. I’ve just never had the time to actually take it in. But I will, eventually.)

And then I thought and thought about the necklace, because it came with a ring and I didn’t really want the ring. It’s a pretty piece, but I don’t usually wear jewelry that large, and it’s a size 5, so it only fits my pinky finger. It has marcasites in it, which means it probably can’t be resized. It’s clear that the two were not originally a set: someone must simply have paired them because of the similarity in design. Finally, after seeing me hesitating, the store owner lowered the price to what it would have been if I were just buying the necklace ($50) and threw in the ring. He thought it would be too difficult to sell alone. So now I have both.

They’re silver, with an agate surrounded by marcasites. The necklace is very deco.

And then I went into Lexington and checked some movies out of the library, so between the library and Netflix DVDs I had a choice of the last two episodes of last season’s True Blood, Dorothy Sayers’ Have His Carcass and Gaudy Night, Terry Pratchett’s Hogfather, and Immortal Beloved (about the secret love of Ludwig van Beethoven). And I thought, what strange tastes I have!  (I watched the True Blood episodes while eating dinner.)

That’s about all I have for you today. I have to get back to writing about Krao, a seven-year-old girl who was brought to England from “Indochina” (I’m not sure what country, that’s how she’s identified in the advertisements) and exhibited at the Westminster Aquarium in London as living proof of Darwin’s theory of evolution. She was advertised as the “Missing Link” because she had fine, dark hair covering her body. She grew up on the show circuit, one of the more famous freaks (and yes, that is the technical term) exhibited at that time. She eventually joined Barnum and Bailey, and then Ringling Brothers.

The problem is, I’m writing about what she signified to Victorian society, how she was presented as living proof of evolutionary theory. How she was both classified and resisted classification. But I’m a writer, so of course what I think about, all the while, is who she was as a person. What it must have been like to be brought to England at such a young age, exhibited in front of hundreds of people. Was she frightened? Did she have time to play? Were there other children for her to play with? When she grew up, she married the man who had originally exhibited her. Did she feel coerced? Did she truly love him? What would love mean in that context? To what extent did she have the power and freedom to direct her own life?

And I think about what a strange thing life is, how we have to create the best lives for ourselves, the ones most full of joy and creativity and adventure, no matter what circumstances we’re born into. No matter how difficult those circumstances are. Compared to so many of the people who have come before me, so many people living today, I’m one of the fortunate ones of the earth, with the power to create the life I want for myself.

That starts today. And tomorrow, it will start today as well. And the next day, and the next.

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5 Responses to Sufficient Unto the Day

  1. Jonny Cache says:

    The difference between “liminal” and “limnal” is just one “i” …

  2. Lorenzo Baehne says:

    Something else you might want to start today is trimming the fat from your, apparently, very busy life. To say you have a full plate seems something of an understatement. Sounds more like a lavish banquet that you don’t stand a chance of consuming. You spoke of priorities in a previous post. Take your own advice: prioritize.

    Just a thought.

    –Lorenzo

  3. Wendy Wagner says:

    I love your new necklace and table! It’s such a pleasure to find beautiful things rich with history. And Krao’s story sounds magical–I’m glad you’re writing your dissertation about someone so riveting!

  4. Sarah Brand says:

    I know what it feels like to not be good at the liminal… I’m playing the waiting game in a number of respects right now (mainly the part where I’m looking for a job). I hope we both land on solid ground soon.

  5. I hope so too, Sarah! 🙂

    Wendy, Krao is just a small part of it, but her story is fascinating. The research on freak show performers is fascinating and disturbing and sometimes very sad, but also inspiring. It’s been some of the most interesting reading I’ve done for the dissertation.

    Lorenzo, I know! I”m trying . . . I really am! 🙂

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