Monday, August 01, 2011

7/31/11 (continued): flinging myself various places

After lunch I took a “’70s dance class” because I had a crème caramel* to burn off and because I thought it might be the kind of thing Ginger would do during the day. Teach the class, that is. It consisted, as I suspected, of some grapevining and John Travolta finger-in-the-air action.

When I was younger, I would have been so absurdly envious of the cruise ship dancers, the wise and talented townies. I’m still envious of their talent and the summer camp vibe that must permeate the halls of the crew quarters, but I can see why this is a young person’s gig: You have to be completely nomadic and able to endure orange formica for months at a time.

I also spent some time by the pool (with my blue Carnival towel covering me like a blanket because it was still pretty damn cold) reading Terry Wolverton’s new book, Stealing Angel. I think it’s hard to write about religion in a way that’s sincere rather than cynical, and I respect her for taking on the challenge. I’m still puzzling through the…teachings? of the novel on both a literary and personal level. But I will say that I tore through the book in roughly two days and it got met thinking a lot about control vs. agency.

Trying to have the former gets you in trouble—turns you into this bossy, blindered person who misses out on a lot of opportunities. Then something in your life—say, a miscarriage—happens that rips away your delusion that you were steering this ship (to use a nautical metaphor). And you feel helpless and awful and like you should have gripped that wheel harder. Or like you shouldn’t have even tried: You should have just flung yourself in the ocean right from the start.

Then you realize you are steering the ship, but that the ocean is bigger and stronger than you by a zillion. But you have to keep steering even with this knowledge. Not against the current, but through it. Even though a storm might totally swallow you up anyway. And that is something I am not yet remotely good at.

*While ship food is better than most all-you-can-eat fare, Carnival has Americanized the menu descriptions almost beyond recognition. “Crème caramel” is flan. “Cottage cheese” is paneer. “Indian bread” is naan.

2 comments:

Peter Varvel said...

I truly appreciate how you articulated your response/insight to Wolverton's novel (especially as one who was raised in Protestant church).
It's rich and substantial - I have to come back and read it again and let it swirl around in my mind more . . .

Cheryl said...

You might like her book too! Lots of good spiritual musing (plus it's a page-turner).