The dryer hums upstairs as it spins clothes in a vortex of heat, drying them after they have spun through water and soap. Such a simple thing and yet, part of the rhythm of daily living these days. I shudder to think of the arduous task of schlepping the laundry to a river or lake and scrubbing it down with a rock or other accoutrements. Yet at the same time, I cannot help but think of how much more social the act of taking the laundry outside one’s home was back then. I assume it is much like going to the laundromat today although with the advent of technology, it is infinitely easier to lose oneself in a game of Candy Crush or on Twitter and Facebook. If you’re scrubbing clothes with a rock, however, it is a bit more difficult to ignore someone attempting to strike up a conversation.
Pondering this, the movement of society away from an integrated close-knit community to an online integrated close-knit community has me wondering why this has happened and what a profound effect it may have on some of us. For those of us who prefer not to be out and about (or are not able to be out and about), it is a wonderful thing. But it can also be a double-edged sword as it enables us to stay home and not interact with society at large, providing an excuse to continue our hermitesque lifestyles without seeming odd.
We are bombarded with negative headlines, danger lurking in every corner, things cropping up here and there. Our anxiety rises, we grow fearful of attending large events so we stay home and watch it from the comfort of our living rooms, interacting instead with others doing the same via the Internet through hashtags, status updates, and check-ins to whatever program we may be watching at the moment.
When I was younger, my father once told me to avoid growing cynical. I try very hard to keep an open mind and a child-like wonder at the world but at the same time, balance it with a strong street smart common sense awareness of what might be lurking around the bend. It is a constant battle inside, wanting to desperately to believe in the fairytale yet seeing the shadow of Gepetto just behind the satin curtain. Isolation from the world at hand will do that to a person.
I am realizing, with a resounding crash this morning, while I don’t think I am terribly cynical, I have succumbed to my fear of the world out there. I am happier browsing Amazon than in a store. I am happier in my car than in the parking lot of the chosen destination where I usually have to talk myself into getting out and walking inside. I am happier lost inside the melody and words of my favourite songs through headphones than I would ever be at a loud, raucous concert.
Perhaps this is simply how one ages, growing to appreciate the silence and solitude of a simple life as if it were a fine wine or an aged brandy. Maybe this is the old age “get offa my lawn” version of growing weary of the ridiculousness of the life out there. Or perhaps this is a knee-jerk reaction to the horrible situation at our previous residence and I simply have not pushed myself hard enough to overcome it. Whatever it is, I am caught in between wanting to fix it or wanting to embrace it.
My entire life, I have always been shy. I do not long to be the center of the party or live a public life. (Yet, here I am, blogging – go figure!) I have always preferred the quiet to the loud. Preferred activities? Curling up with a good book, writing, listening to music, watching movies, chatting and laughing with a few close friends. Part of me often yearns for a larger group of friends but the rest of me quietly whispers “we can’t handle that.”
Blogging is one of the few places I feel comforted. For awhile, this did not feel like my safe space because I did not know what to say. I felt as if I were the prodigal daughter, unable to return home because I had changed. But I realized those changes fit this blog and to not share them, to not offer a glimpse into how drastically my life changed and how I now fought to deal with these changes would be hypocritical. And thus, I returned. There was no celebration, no sacrifice of the fatted calf, just words filling the little white box every day.
A new voice has been found and this morning, this morning that voice called to me as I sat in our living room, alone, watching children run back and forth outside in the snow, laughing and playing. Starting to type, I exhaled, and the negativity ensnared in my soul fled. For the first time in a long time, I realized, there was nothing wrong with me this morning other than needing to turn a valve to let the words flow freely from my brain.
I may not be the most social person in this concrete world, but I am valuable, I matter, and I am a fighter. Some days will be harder than others. Some days will leave me knocked out flat on the ground while others have me floating in the heavens. It’s the days in between that matter. The days when I put my nose to the grind and do the dirty work to earn the awesome days – and the days when I pick myself up off the ground to try again.
And so, life moves forward, filled with rhythmic sounds of every day necessities, like the humming of the dryer upstairs spinning clothes in a super heated vortex.