Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Growing up in rural America

This isn't directly related to my 45th year challenge, but I recently learned that a woman I graduated high school with has written a memoir. So, of course, I read it as soon as I could get my hands on it!

Publisher's Weekly describes Driving with Dead People, by Monica Holloway, as follows, "Her memoir sings with the power of a disenfranchised woman finally finding her own voice, and her brutal memoir is hard to forget."

I have to say that her ability at capturing our hometown's sense of place and culture is uncanny. Although Monica and I didn't socialize outside of high school, we were in many classes together. And, of course, I would never have guessed what she was dealing with outside of school. Nor, I'm sure, would she have guessed anything about my personal life.

The book reminded me of how overwhelming being a teenager can feel, and also of how we all find ways to deal. Monica and I were similar in that we both coped by achieving. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but as I've lived my 44 years, I have realized that tying one's identity to achievement is a tenuous proposition.

The spiritual teachers to whom I relate, such as Pema Chodron and Toni Packer, would remind me that tying one's identity to ANYTHING is problematic!

So, perhaps this is about my 45th year challenge...working with feelings of image and identity are a big part of meditative work, and as I've begun to think about my solo retreat, I've realized that it may be a tiny bit harder than I've imagined. Nearly 2 whole days with no externally-imposed schedule, no one to be responsible for or to, no one to ground me in some sense of role or identity? Yes, it might be a little more challenging than I initially thought.

Oh, by the way, if you read the book, no, I'm not in it, but my best friend is mentioned. Ask me and I'll tell you who.

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