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Thursday, September 2, 2010

"I was so much older then; I'm younger than that now"

"...I mean, life has to be sloughed: has to be faced: to be rejected; then accepted on new terms with rapture. And so on, and so on; till you are 40, when the only problem is how to grasp it tighter and tighter to you, so quick it seems to slip, and so infinitely desirable it is."
___Virginia Woolf

So the writer told a new young friend. Obviously, she was well past 40 by that time and more and more desperate to hold on to a slippery life, tighter and tighter.

This is not going to be literary criticism. Or biography. At least not Virginia's. I simply want to borrow her images. And especially the one.

" has to be sloughed..."

It seems to have been a time for sloughing. Transition. Giving away. Giving over, letting go.

We let go, as if she was ever ours to hold on to, our youngest daughter, escorted her to the opening of the next chapter of her life. University.

How far away is New York City? It isn't to be measured in miles. Those are easily erased with text messages, skype, and even, gasp, telephone conversations. How far is New York City from here?

A life.

A new life.

One opens. For her. But also for us.

I wrote last in this space that I was feeling old. Too old. I don't think that was it. Not quite, not exactly.

I was sloughing. Letting go. Facing reality. It is now this time. It is now. Simply now. But the difference between before and now, and now and after, is disorienting. As it often is. Not often, always.

"Life has to be sloughed."

A time to hold on, a time to let go. A time to stay, a time to move, a time to be firm, a time to be loose, to relax, to be less. There is a time to hold on tighter and a time to give.

I disagree with Virginia. Or, rather, more exactly, honestly, my life is different than hers. She needed to hold on tighter and tighter as she grew older. Not necessarily to happy avail. I find the opposite is true for me. There is more to let loose, to set free, to watch fly off into the skies.

The mistake is to mistake the times for what they are, and are not. The mistake is to hold when it is time to hand over. To stay when it is time to go. To measure in terms of what has rather than what one has given.

So now we have given our two daughters more completely to their own selves. We have given them their futures to shape and shade, to claim. To lean into and discover. And for them, too, it is time to slough off old skin, old stuff.

One girl has found a home in a sweet, friendly neighborhood in an enormous city of some eight million. Her big sister is a woman on her own, having earned a degree and found a job in her field, found her own place to live and is now creating for herself a home. They will both be part of us forever. This will always be their home home. But not like before. We have faced a reality, found new options and opportunities, new places and energies and vocations, people, loves, likes, restaurants, tastes, tolerances.

We have rejected -- one must always not choose something to choose something -- and we have accepted on new terms with rapture.


This is a time for rapture.

(Not the rapture, in which case, I want your BMW.) But rapture. Joy. Illumination.

And young-ness. Having sloughed, faced, rejected, and felt very old in the process, I'm feeling young again with rapture. With all there is to accept. To do, to try, to learn, to work at and work out, to agonize over and push for.

Yep. Two weeks ago I was old. In fact, "I was so much older then; I'm younger than that now."

p.s. I'm serious about the car thing. In case of rapture, I'm taking your car.

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