Blogging joined the ranks of other purposeful pleasures: swimming, practicing guitar, cross-stitching, braiding my hair. I stopped doing it for long enough that although I knew I’d start again, it no longer felt like something I ought to be doing.
Who hasn’t added room after room to the house of self? Mine has looked like this:
Hannah the wife, the daughter, the sister, the aunt, and the friend. The Hannah who teaches, who meditates, who practices yoga, who writes (journals! letters! a blog! a memoir manuscript! an unfinished novel!), who emails, who rides her bike, who plays Frisbee, who knits, who performs, who directs, who organizes things, who cleans, who cooks, who gardens, who walks the dog.
Write a list like that and the word “who” stops making sense. And seriously, who is the person doing all this?
A year ago that person – that edifice of Hannah – collapsed to the ground. I spent long months weeping, rummaging through the rubble. The months didn’t bother me so much as the moments: the lump in my throat as I sang joyful songs I no longer meant; the ache of mornings when I’d slept plenty but couldn’t bear getting out of bed. My mind recalled gladness the way the thirsty recall water.
Now I wonder what it means to live without believing the rambling house-self contains me. Funny thing: my mind already knew the edifice I kept building was only an identity, not the truth of my being.
The mind’s knowing is not the heart’s knowing. Nothing like deep sorrow to sink the mind into the heart, the heart past the belly and into the leaden feet. What remains a year after the house collapses? Nothing. Everything. No tidy words to wrap the nothing-everything in. And so I haven’t blogged for a while. Very few of the tasks that once comprised “me” feel essential any longer. But many of them have begun to spark gladness again. I encounter gladness the way I’d like to encounter water – and peanut butter, and nail polish, and lilacs, and ten thousand unearned blessings – with renewed wonder.