Living Intensely

There’s a storm coming. I’ve seen it mentioned on social media, and there have been stories about it on the news. The university has written to tell me that I can cancel classes if I need to, and even the electricity company is telling me what to do in case of downed power lines.

I live in the city, and all the power lines are underground. Perhaps that’s part of the reason I haven’t really been paying attention. The other part is that this is Boston, and we’re told that we’re getting a storm of the century every autumn. I have a flashlight, I’ll probably go out later today to get extra water and food. And I’ll charge up the electronics. But I’m half a block away from my office, in a brand new building in one of the largest universities in the country, which has backup systems. And I live in a building that has been standing for the last hundred years.

So yeah, maybe I’m not taking it as seriously as I should . . .

I was thinking about the storm today because it seems to mirror something inside me. I’ve been asking myself why I haven’t been better about updating this blog. Even while I was writing my dissertation, I was quite good at updating on a regular basis. I think it’s because since I’ve moved into the city, into this apartment which seems so peaceful, so quiet, I’ve been living intensely.

You can’t see it on the outside. On the outside, I have a very normal life. But on the inside, so much has been happening. I’m not even sure I can describe what. It’s as though tectonic plates are shifting. I always think that you have to be prepared on the inside before something can happen on the outside. So what in the world am I preparing for? I have no idea. I sometimes think my body understands things better than I do. I also think that if you try to do things before the time is right, they don’t work out. I remember trying to apply to graduate school before I was mentally ready, even before my law school loans were paid off. It didn’t work. The next year, when the loans were paid off and I was ready, it worked so well that I had full support and a stipend. And I ended up at Boston University, which was the last place I thought I would go. I was sure I’d end up at one of the smaller Ivies, and I had that opportunity. But in the end, I chose to come here, and it turned out to be the perfect place, the place that allowed me to start becoming a writer.

Living intensely is actually quite difficult. I end up becoming impatient with ordinary life. I end up doing things that have a certain intensity to them: taking long walks by the river, writing. Those bring a kind of relief. And I think of adventures to have, even when they’re small ones.

I don’t know what this period is about, exactly. But I feel as though I need to go through it, because there’s something on the other side. When I figure out what it is, I’ll let you know!

Meanwhile, here’s what I’ve been listening to while waiting for the storm:

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4 Responses to Living Intensely

  1. andrea says:

    love this post, thank you. so often i feel like i have to step aside, get out of the way, and let my body lead. of course my head is part of my body, but once i let go control of my head, in a way, then my head and body can get down to the real work that has been waiting for me. hmm, sounds odd written out perhaps.

  2. We fared relatively well out in my part of central Massachusetts. Much of our town is without power, but we were fortunate enough not to lose ours at home. Now, I’m no fan of long power outages (8 days without electricity in the blizzard last year was just awful), but I find there’s something rather wonderful about experiencing brief outages. Not long enough that it becomes a hardship, but just long enough (maybe a day or less) that it allows one an excuse to slow down, to pare away all the busyness and clutter that come with being plugged-in (internet, tv, etc.) and focus on beautifully quiet and simple tasks, like reading by flashlight or warming soup on a gas stove. Even something so practical as filling a darkened room with candles because you have no other light source… it takes on a magical quality… not just because it looks pretty, but because there is something so “other” about it that it shifts you into a different mindset and way of being.

    Also, thank you for sharing that enchanting Patrick Wolf video. You’re the second person I’ve seen blog about it (the first was Terri Windling), and it reminded me that I need to go purchase the song!

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