Log in

No account? Create an account

Previous Entry | Next Entry

"The Amateur"

I just finished reading The Amateur: An Independent Life of Letters, a collection of personal essays by Wendy Lesser.

I had picked it up hoping, even expecting, to find inspiration for my own efforts to build an "independent life" -- but although several of the essays were engaging in their own right, my ultimate reaction to the book was one of alienation rather than inspiration.

Lesser lives in the kind of world I had expected to grow up to inhabit: one of academia, literary readings and publications, frequent visits to the theater, opera, dance stage and concert hall. She writes of Berkeley professors, London theatrical directors, MacArthur grant winning poets.

What was most interesting to me was that I felt no envy of her life. It would be nice to have her level of affluence, yes. It would be nice to partake more in the life of academia than I do. But overall: no. That's not the life I want.

Like her, I want to publish. I want to teach. But I want to live a life that has more rawness and passion than her neat, civilized essays express. I want to engage with people whose spiritual lives have urgency behind them. I would rather spend a weekend with ordeal masters than literary critics. I would rather publish the raw anguish of my grieving, the Void, and my descents than her observations of literary life and folk in Berkeley and New York.

It can be frustrating to find myself expressing insights in negative terms (ie: I don't want that), but this is an important confirmation. In one sense, the life I thought I would have has escaped me; but it's also true that the life I thought I would have is no longer the life I want.

Honestly -- and have I ever thought about this way before? -- if I had ever truly wanted that life, wouldn't I have put more focused energy and effort into actually achieving it? Goodness knows I have invested heart and soul into those few things I've truly and deeply wanted.


Queen of Swords

Latest Month

December 2018
Powered by LiveJournal.com
Designed by Lilia Ahner