Every time I start to get frustrated with too many new ideas, too many controversial ideas, too many things that I believe, yet feel judged for I start to withdraw and want to quit. When things get hard, I just wanna give up. And yet, I know, I can't. I can't go back, I have to keep going. Sometimes when this happens I decide I need to put those intellectual pursuits on the back burner. Shelve the theology for a while. Create space. Find a place to just be, to just rest and try to let my brain recover, let my heart heal. This time, I decided to just read for fun. No thought stretching non-fiction. No controversial books. I wouldn't even wonder, or question, or desire to learn something new. I would just read some for fun.
I read a couple books. Light. Easy. Enjoyable. Fun. I love memoirs, so after those few light books I decided to read Reading Lolita in Tehran. Oops. The joke is on me. The last time this happened was with Lauren Winner's Girl Meets God. That stretched my mind and tired me out more than a lot of what I had been reading. Her insights spoke to me and started me off again thinking things I'd wanted to hide from for awhile. I was on vacation and torturing myself. Ha ha. And, now, here I go again apparently.
As I was reading Reading Lolita in Tehran I ran across some passages very early on that spoke to me...."An absurd fictionality ruled our lives. We tried to live in the open spaces, in the chinks created between that room, which had become our protective cocoon, and the censor's world of witches and goblins outside. Which of these two worlds was more real, and to which did we really belong? We no longer knew the answers. Perhaps one way of finding out the truth was to do what we did: to try to imaginatively articulate these two worlds and, through that process, give shape to our vision and identity."
Uh-Oh. That started worming its way inside my brain. I reached for a highlighter and my notebook. And stopped. I didn't want to think. So I shrugged it off (even though it tugged at me) and kept reading.
And I found a couple more. This didn't totally correlate, but it was close enough to real life in my circles to hit a nerve.
"He had come in the name of a past, a past that, he claimed, had been stolen from him. And he now wanted to re-create us in the image of that illusory past. Was it any consolation, and did we even wish to remember, that what he did to us was what we allowed him to do?"
Ok - the highlighter came out. So I could forget it for now and move on.
And then, in the next paragraph I found this: "It is amazing how, when all possibilities seem to be taken away from you, the minutest opening can become a great freedom."
Absolutely true - and those are the openings we grasp at as if our lives depend on them. I moved on. Keep in mind that this is all in the space of about five or six pages.
And I came across this: "Yet that green gate was closed to her, and to all my girls. Next to the gate there was a small opening with a curtain hanging from it. It was an aberration that attracted attention, because it did not belong there....Through this opening all the female students, including my girls, went into a small, dark room to be inspected....all would be checked before I could enter the campus of the university, the same university in which men also study. And to them the main door, with its immense portals and emblems and flags, is generously open. That a small side opening was the source of endless tales of frustration, humiliation and sorrow. It was meant to make the girls ordinary and invisible."
I don't think I even need to make the obvious connection there.This is crazy! I'm supposed to be enjoying reading. Giving my brain a rest. Not getting hit with one thing after another that sends me down rabbit trails of thought!
The next thing I saw was this: "...she explained why all the normal acts of life had become small acts of rebellion and political insubordination to her and to other young people like her. All her life she was shielded. She was never let out of sight; she never had a private corner in which to think, to feel, to dream, to write...they seemed to think they could tell her how she should feel about them as well"
"...this veil meant nothing to her anymore yet without [it] she would be lost. She had always worn the veil. Did she want to wear it or not?"
Do I want to do this or not? Think this way or not? Explore this path, walk this road, continue the journey?
Ok - I just put the book away. Too much fodder for thought. Too much hitting close to home. Too much that speaks metaphorically of my journey of the last few years.
Anybody have a good mindless book I can read??