“I was here. I had reached my life. I had built it by decision and by accident–and there would be no other.”
I’m savoring Dani Shapiro’s new memoir, Devotion. Though the words above appear on page 36 and I’m on page 106, I keep returning to this passage, including once to read it aloud to Greg in the car yesterday. I had reached my life. There would be no other.
It dovetails nicely with an Annie Dillard quote I encountered this morning: “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.”
By decision and by accident.
By happenstance and by intention.
By leaps of faith and retreats into fear.
By idealism and by wariness.
By trial and error.
By design and by inertia.
By naivete and by savvy.
By chance and on purpose.
The bottom line: There will be no other life than this life. A life that is reflected in how we spend our days.
It is easy to give lip service to these things, to slap a bumpersticker on the car: Don’t postpone joy. These past few weeks, though, something has been stirring in me, this very feeling Dani Shapiro describes so succinctly: I am here. I have reached my life.
As you know if you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, I have spent so many years imagining another life, always the one I was striving to create or find but never quite reaching, never fully inhabiting. Always working towards.
The waking up comes sometimes gradually and sometimes with stunning, even painful immediacy. It is not a one-time event. It may be cataclysmic or it may be mundane and simple. It happens every day. It happens when we open our eyes and recognize what is as opposed to what we think should be. It is a momentary, coming-and-going, ebbing-and-flowing, non-linear, cyclical, sometimes confusing and sometimes lucid spiral.
I had reached my life.
In Shrek 3, which Aviva & Pearl picked out for “Family Movie Night” last Friday, there is an actual land called Far, Far Away. Far, Far Away is exactly where my life isn’t. It isn’t in some imagined future where we have found inner peace and made lots of money, or where our kids have grown or where we have finally figured out what we want and who we are.
It is here, where the illusions are lifted, the intolerable is tolerable. It is here, this life, not some other one where you married someone else or chose a different profession or bought low and sold high or took the leap or listened to your gut.
It is here, beyond regret, beyond second-guessing, beyond fantasy. And yet it is beyond nothing. It is nowhere else. It is that pause I have come to treasure, the one that transforms the nowhere in our heads to the now here of our lives.
The life we already have.