Saturday, January 24, 2009

I had a talk with a friend the other day that really got me thinking: he said that, although he's doing well in his line of work and generally satisfied romantically and philosophically, he's coming to realize that he's someone who's destined for a "small life" rather than the grander destiny he'd always vaguely envisioned. It made me sad not because there's anything tragic in small scale - I'm firmly of the belief that there are no small lives, only small actors to paraphrase whoever said that - but because he seemed to be giving up on something at an awfully young age.

What is a "big" life, though? Fame? Affecting people's lives? Leaving something behind? Even a large life is made up of tiny things - the decision is in whether to appreciate them, surely. It seems to me that if one is conscious of the scale of his existence, it's a pretty untenable state, and not necessarily a happy one. When I think of those friends I know who are enjoying an unusual degree of success at a young age - some musicians, a couple of very successful writers - I see all the excitement and challenges of a whole life condensed into a few months' time, and both the thrill and the toll of it. If most of life is made up of looking back and anticipation, it must be fairly terrifying to know that you're actually in the eye of the storm.

This has been a week filled with history, delicious meals, a failed batch of mashed potatoes, petty gossip, professional anxt, one new dress, and a redux of The Man Who Was Thursday. Today I had brunch with a friend who had made the most beautiful miniature birthday cake out of Sculpey. Then we took the dog for a walk and there was a lamppost that said "NY City" on the base and looked almost old enough to have been converted from gas. I cut my finger with the vegetable peeler. Slim brought me a sour cream doughnut from Peter Pan. A dear friend's parent is ill. Charlie got a new job at a good bar. I broke my favorite glass, the miniature glass mug with the squirrel embossed on it. And my mom is in California with her brother, trying to help him sort things out.

I'll take it.

1 comment:

Gypsywannabe said...

I love the layeredness of your last paragraph. Reminds me of Emily in Wilder's play Our Town, saying that life is too wonderful for anyone to ever realize. You seem here to have captured that wonder. Thanks!