I was listening to Under the Tuscan Sun book on tape yesterday, and Frances Mayes read a line that struck me. She was talking about different stages in life and how whenever she tries to go back to something or somewhere that she loved in the past and walk again in her own footsteps, it's never quite the same, never quite as lovable. "Though I'm susceptible to the pull to the known, I'm just slightly more susceptible to surprise." The reason it struck me so much was that I find exactly the opposite in myself and I'm not sure how much I like that about me. Don't get me wrong; I love that I still feel home at home. I dread the day when all of the things that I love about home aren't enough to offer me guaranteed peace and a sense of homecomimng. It's always amazed me that after an 8-hour drive alone through some of the most monotonous terrain, 5 minutes at home makes me feel like I've been there for days, comfortably settled in to the wonderfully familiar. This desire to be surrounded by what I know has affected so many decisions throughout my life--my college choice, my summer jobs (most notably my summer jobs), my pharmacy rotations, my school vacation plans, etc.
People who know me even the slightest bit well know my deep affinity for Orthodoxy. One of my favorite parts is Chesterton's story about the sailor who sails from England in exploration and plants the British flag on a new island in the South Seas only to discover that he is not actually in the South Seas, but in fact back in England. Chesterton does not deny that he would look like a fool, but he argues adamantly that he would not have felt like one. "What could be more delightful than to have in the same few minutes all the fascinating terrors of going abroad combine with all the humane security of coming home again?" He describes this mix of the familiar and the unfamiliar as romance. I worry that I am far too attached to the familiar to ever grasp that romance. Not necessarily in the traditional sense of romance, although as my previous blogs will attest, I'm not opposed to rapidly discovering my future husband. But I fear that romance in the sense of adventure mixed with the comforts of the familiar will be just out of reach until I am ready to loosen my grip slightly on that which I know and love. There are amazing things out there in the world and I am so determined not to lose the wonderful things that I already have that I may have missed out on my own great adventure.
That's a morbid thought. And I'm not too worried about it because I know I have a lot of living to do, a lot of my story still in which to be the leading lady as Laura would say. I just need to suck it up and take the plunge. I'm convinced that fear is the most paralyzing emotion, more than anger, hatred, apathy, depression. It's a good thing that I have the most wonderful friends and family in the whole world to help me move beyond that and into my great adventure.
On a side note for Michael and Coco, in the movies when people exchange something rapidly and at the same time, not letting go of their bargaining chip until they've got a good hold on their new acquisition, it doesn't always involve cake. Except maybe in weird British movies.