Mythology and moments (II)

I really love the latest post on Chicken & Cheese about our personal mythologies, the moments that define us, and the sense of standing on the brink of one. I am so familiar with the scene she evokes: the late night, the insomnia, and most of all, the feeling of plates shifting under the surface. I know this creaking well.

I also know the way that this shifting can feel deafening to me, utterly preoccupying in its noise and, sometimes, its pain. It always surprises me that it is invisible and inaudible to others (or to most). Somehow, the movement of the fundamental structure that underlies who I am goes undetected to most of the world. Somehow, even when it feels as though I am cracking (which I do not today, by the way), I walk through the world as though nothing is happening.

Of course the flip of this is that we ought to treat everyone with a compassion that respects whatever whitewater they are riding inside their own heads and hearts. If the world cannot see our turmoil, our plates shifting, then we cannot know this of others. Be kind. Those with tear-glazed faces or cold eyes probably have internal demons that we cannot know. It – and this is hard for me, I admit, very hard – likely has nothing at all to do with us.

No trumpets sound when the important decisions of our lives are made. Destiny is made known silently. – Agnes de Mille

Today I am pensive (here in my pensieve), thinking about my personal mythology, about the moments of my life that shaped who I am today. Some of them are big, I know, like the births of my children, but many of them are small. In fact I think it is true, this notion of destiny taking shape in silence. Often the true shifts that change our direction irrevocably happen invisibly to others. This is the terrible, wonderful privacy of this life: nobody can know our internal terrain well enough to walk it without guidance.

From almost exactly a year ago … and I still feel every word of it…

7 thoughts on “Mythology and moments (II)”

  1. I love the trumpets quote. Isn’t that too true? It seems the important decisions in my life are the ones like this one:

    I was once washing dishes and demonizing my husband that he was not. Then I realized I could think differently about him. I could ponder instead all the ways he supports me and shows his love in ways I cannot yet see. This was one of the quietest revelations of my life. No one was there for me to proclaim this news to. And yet. From that day to this my marriage has shifted like there was a silent earthquake that day.

  2. What a validation this is! Thank you for sharing all of these quiet revelations. I have so often had thoughts I was sure only I had and then I have come here and found I was not alone.

    Thank you!

  3. This is so true. I was just talking to my daughter about how looks can be deceiving.

    She has a friend whom she thought was “perfect”, she at least appeared to be. Recently this friend has shared some of herself with my daughter. Things aren’t as perfect as they look.

    There is an Easter picture of my family (me, dh, 2 children) from many years ago. At the time someone said that we looked like the perfect family.

    Notice the words “looked like”…

    My mother used to sing “nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen”.

    You are so right Lyndsey, we should always have compassion.

  4. This is the terrible, wonderful privacy of this life: nobody can know our internal terrain well enough to walk it without guidance.

    THese words! I read them with such deep recognition and respect for your wisdom. And I think: to love someone, really love them, is to ask every day for the road map, to learn to pay attention along the way to the landmarks, so that the terrible, wonderful privacy is not isolating.

  5. I love it! I believe that ones destiny unfolds softly and surely which is perhaps the biggest surprise of all because often we’re waiting for the majestic life-defining moment.

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