"Acedia is like the bad fairy who is not invited to a royal christening, and in her indignation exacts a terrible revenge," writes U.S. poet Kathleen Norris in Acedia & me: A Marriage, Monks, and A Writer's Life. A wonderful book, and fit reading for these dying days of summer. Autumnal anxiety a useful, healthy antidote, I would say, to the alternative: the restless, unhappy numbness of not caring, not applying oneself, of drifting along without focus or hope. A state Norris considers to be deeper and darker than depression. A poisonous feeling that saps people (maybe especially writers?) of the urge and the energy to create, which is an urge that relies on optimism.
So we put our faith in fall? Back to school, nose to the grindstone, hamster on the wheel--the all of it, the quotidian stuff of daily routine that focuses some of us, anyway, away from the staying-stillness of lying on a beach, etcetera.
Norris also quotes St. Benedict, suggesting that it is important to remember at least once a day that we will die: the best antidote of all to acedia, that slippery slope from carefree to careless to despair. Writing such a tricky, odd balance between thinking we have forever to find the right words, sinking happily into its present, and eternally playing beat the clock.
- A writer, mother, teacher, friend, I love books, blizzards and beaches, music from Hildegard von Bingen to the Beatles to Bonnie Raitt to The Brood; I love medieval churches, red wine, creme caramel, and roasted beets, and walking the woods and coastlines of home.