13 September 2008

A Serious Soul

"Nothing holds its truth for long enough. Home leaves us, not the other way around..." Words of wisdom from Helen Humphreys, Canadian writer, from Coventry, her new novel to be published in February [Until then, read Lost Garden or Wild Dogs or Afterimage]
I am a serious soul. Have always been. Frivolity does not come easy to me. I do love to laugh and appreciate sophisticated humor, but I tend to be a bit high brow. I come by this naturally. I was the only child of immigrant parents, much to live up to, although in the homes of Eastern European immigrants there was always more laughter than despair. However, most of my life, my mother was struggling for her own life, which she lost when I was an adolescent. Thus, at a very young age I took on more responsibility than any young person should shoulder, and also found myself recognizing the fragility of life, needing to feel a sense of meaning in all things.
This sort of personality does not easily embrace anything that seems a waste of time. Or a waste of imagination. I abhor frat-boy humor and find myself increasingly embarassed by American pop culture. My book group thinks I'm a snob, which in literary terms I am. I don't read chic lit and rarely watch network television. I thank my blessings for NetFlix so I can always watch a good film of my own choosing in my own home. Although I confess I saw Sex in the City opening week-end, for the fun of it, and I saw the Dark Knight for Heath Ledger's final breathtaking performance. I blast rock and roll at home and in my car, but at concerts I rarely stand or dance, rather listen with intent.
I married a similar sort and we ended up taking our differences way too seriously.
I took one of those personality tests recently for a seminar at work and I was classified as a "Thinker." The life coach looked at my profile and said "You really need to have more fun." This of course made me laugh. It's funny to me to be nailed so quickly by a stranger. What was not funny to me was when I was invited last week to attend a chocolate tasting-sale at the home of an acquaintance. I stared at the e-invite with disdain. So much of the world is at war. Poverty is ubiquitous and ignorance rampant. I work for an organizaton that shelters the homeless and I shudder at their lives on the streets. The right wing has taken over the Republican party and Rove is once again master-minding a candidacy that may permanently mark this country, founded on religious freedom and opportunity, as fundamentalists determined to do battle with perceived evil across the world. Women are being bamboozled by an inexperienced opportunist. Greed is imploding our banking system, while war and special interests are mounting insurmountable debt. I watch my portfolio hemmorage and my hopes for any sort of retirement vanish into a far more distant future than was in reach only a year ago. Friends are battling cancer. There are people who still don't believe in global warming. And the other day, I was invited to a chocolate tasting and sale at the home of an acquaintance. I stared at the e-invite in horror. Who has time for such nonsense? One of my friends asks - why not? She's right. One must balance reality with a bit of frivolity. Still, the chocolate is Dove, and if it were Scharfenberger or some new Swedish conconction, I might have felt differently. Dove? I'd rather munch on M&M's.
Truth is, I can and do have fun. I recognize that serious can border too often on stuffy. I get that. Still, life is short - each of us must choose how we spend our time and I prefer a more existential existence. We are meant to know ourselves and live accordingly. And though living in Laguna Beach is instantaneous lightening up, home is within.


  1. I always feel impelled to respond when I see "zero comments." Does this mean I am just paying attention, or do I value your thoughts and want to say so?

    Anyway, this is a particularly revealing piece. I knew all this about you, but your presentation and rationale is revealing. I guess you are a “real” writer because I am too inhibited to disclose these things about myself. Okay, here I go: I am a card carrying member of the ACLU!

  2. Randy, I must say that I love dark chocolate and Dove is pretty good. It's what I get when I am craving chocolate and the only thing in sight is a Rite Aid. Have you tried it?