Friday, December 11, 2009

Not So Much Free As Loose....

Annie Dillard said her father had a dream of spending a summer riding a river barge on the Mississippi. When he found the time, the reality sent his dream to hell. The days were long and tedious, with no one to talk to but dull-witted river men. He had hoped to experience a "Tom Sawyer" kind of freedom, realizing he was "not so much free, as loose." Me, I am loose. Loose as a goose freed by truce from a noose in a spruce by a sluice made of juice that a moose bought from Jews wearing puce in a caboose. Okay I'll stop, but not because I have to.

Most people are hard-wired to work, to do something each and every day. Certainly we're not meant to sit around in our pajamas, swilling Southern Pecan decaf with soy milk until lunchtime, tapping out a dumb, self-serving blog? Or cram into a recliner next to a cranked-up woodstove in our pajamas, swilling now-cold-and-disgusting-decaf with soy milk handwriting a childrens book on a pink-papered legal pad? I'm not even really ashamed to be seen in my pajamas anymore. My husband's grown kids are now pretty used to seeing me any time of day in them, along with the next door neighbors, and the UPS man. To my credit, I am always showered, hair semi-done, lipstick on, with my diamond earrings in place. That counts for something doesn't it? Pajamas, Lipstick and Diamonds. Didn't Peggy Lee record that sultry refrain?

Greg Levoy wrote in his book, "Callings:"
"Last year I saw a movie called City of Angels. It opens in the emergency room of a hospital where a little girl has just died, and the camera slowly pans away from this scene until we're looking down a long corridor in the hospital, with a light at the far end. The little girl is walking down the corridor, toward the light, holding hands with an angel played by Nicholas Cage.
Halfway down the hallway, the angel turns to her and asks, "So, what did you like best about it?" Meaning life. And the girl says "Pajamas!" I've posed this exact same question to several thousand people in the last year in my "Callings" workshops; asked them to imagine that they're walking down The Corridor toward the proverbial light, holding hands with an angel-----or with Nicholas Cage if they prefer-----and the angel asks them what them liked best about it.

Not one person has ever said work."

This was a giant quote, but I feel strongly about Greg Levoy's book and his wisdom. I've owned this book and audio book since it was published in 1997. He was wise enough to quote from many masters throughout his writing. I've listened to his audio book so often over the last twelve years that now it crawls to a near mumble toward the end of the tape. But I almost know it by heart at this point and can speak it right along with him in some places.

Can I do it? Can I live it? Can I, as he says, "walk the talk?" I think I'm getting there. I know I love my pajamas more than I loved my work and I know that's progress.

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