Saturday, March 22, 2003

Thoreau wrote that most people lead lives of quiet desperation.

I seldom do. I have a life. In fact, most of the people I know, to all appearances, lead good enough lives and spend relatively little time in the self-torture of quiet desperation. They do their work and have their relationships and worry more about meeting the deadline, having their calls returned, and getting dinner on the table than reaching grand goals. Like Voltaire's Candide, who finally decided the sum of wisdom was to cultivate one's own garden, we largely pick a little corner of the world and do what we can there.


For about three weeks, I have not been well. A little cold put me out of the game I had been playing, and it seems that without it, I am uncomfortable in my life. I have not yet found friendships to replace those I left in Portland. I still feel out of step with the smaller town we've been living in for the last two and a half years. I've made some efforts to become connected. I joined a service organization and a writer's group and a health club. I took a class. None of it has brought me again to a place where I feel again that I belong.

I'm tired. I'm tired of pouring myself out, offering the hand of friendship and receiving no return. I'm tired of receiving the critical glances that my mild eccentricities elicit where everyone is so alike. I'm tired of being in the far fringe of the local bell curve, when I was well within tolerance in the larger city. I am homesick, and I thought I was more adaptable than this.

Well, maybe that's quiet desperation. And maybe most people are suffering it.

But I have literature more useful than that.

In issue 8 of Sandman, Neil Gaiman has the very wise Death cuss out her brother Dream for "Feeling all sorry for yourself because your little game is over, and you haven't got the -- the balls to go and find a new one!"

I belong to the most adaptable species on a hugely diverse planet. There are choices available to me that generation after generation succeeded without -- a galaxy, an infinity of new games.

And tomorrow, or even this afternoon, I will find one.

If you haven't already, do check out Neil Gaiman's journal.

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