I’ve written before, years ago, about my conflicted feelings about “the mundane quotidian routines[that] are both safety net and cage.”
Today I was thinking about how real life, in its banal detail, both hems us in and keeps us intact. There are times when I truly think that if it were not for the demands and rhythms of my regular life, I might actually fly into a million pieces, exploding and disintegrating as the particles of me scattered like mica into the air. Life is a collage of the prosaic and the transcendent: Pour the cereal. Pack the lunches. What is our place in the universe? Pair the socks. Wipe the placemats. Notice, stunned, the stark blackness of a crow against the suddenly-fall gray September sky. Make the doctor’s appointment. Remember the birthday card. What does it mean to really love another?
And on. And on.
Some days my interior life is so intense and, often, painful, that I can think of nothing else. Whatever is bothering me spreads quickly through the interstices of my consciousness, like a black ink blot taking over a white page, obliterating everything else. And then something happens: a child cries or there is a meeting that can’t be skipped and I am tugged back to the day to day, away from the perilous blackness that just moments earlier threatened to swamp me.
In this way my life often saves me from myself. Equally, though, it frustrates me, distracting me, rendering me unable to really plumb whatever it is that is on my mind. Reality and its demands are a frame that simultaneously contains and restricts my experience.
Every single day of this life contains drudgery and divinity. They swirl together, and could so easily become mud, the clotted brown of wasabi stirred into soy sauce. Instead they seem to sharpen each others’ vividness, sometimes to a degree that pierces me. Most of the time, I wouldn’t have it any other way.