Trying to nurture the “peace” as opposed to the “war”

Where I went this weekend

I spent a terrific weekend on the coast, and now I have this crazy sunburn on my back that reminds of those Wings tattoos that people get. I’ve been feeling a little run-down this week… from the sun, maybe (most delicious, totally worth it Vitamin D overdose ever). I am tired of working in an office. So tomorrow I am gonna be positive and proactive about things and do my darndest to go out on an ADVENTURE . Yeah!!

Sometimes I wonder if I will ever be happy in one place, doing one thing, as opposed to just waiting for the experience to end so that I can move onto the next thing. Is this just what it’s like being young? Or am I just being human?

I’m reading War and Peace right now and it’s been absolutely terrific so far. I jokingly said to Corey the other day, “This book is quickly becoming more addictive than Girls of Playboy Mansion.” (I went through a bad reality TV addiction the other week… yeah. But I’m over it now!!) I’m about 200 pages in so that leaves about 1,000 to go (uuf!). I can’t believe David Lean never made a movie of this.  It is just so exceedingly pleasant to come home at the end of a longday and settle into the couch with a sigh of satisfaction, a gigantic book on your lap that you are looking forward to reading, that you’ve been daydreaming about finally getting to sit down and read all day. That’s a sign of a good book, you know? If you are EXCITED, jittery anticipation style, about getting to sit down and read it!

So far the character I like the best is Pierre, the main one. He’s this rich, bumbling dude who came into a huge inheiritance and is trying to figure out what to do with his life (OH, the timeless problems of privilege!). My sister described this book as trying to figure out whether you wanted to live for others or live for yourself, which is as good a summary as any. The title itself, War and Peace, seems to be a pretty excellent encapsulation of the human condition: we’re either at peace with ourselves, happy and satisfied and content with our lot in life, or we’re at WAR, the little voices in our heads chitter chattering away, blaring out our dissatisfaction and pettiness and misery to everyone like exploding shells or air-raid cannons.

I read this great review of Tolstoy in The Nation that made me realize how fitting it is that the guy from Into the Wild was a huge Tolstoy fan, i.e. how “Tolstoyism” is an actual philosophy/approach to life, one that involves simplicity, renunciation of the self, and all those other Christopher McCandless stamp of approval type things.

Anyway, the Nation article talks about how Tolstoy wrote Bildung novels or novels of personal development, in which the individual enters into adult experiences, tries his hand at this and that and at last discovers his place in the world. The inner self aligns with the outer world, Elizabeth Bennet becomes Mrs. Darcy, and all is well and good. Yes? Or no? Is selling your soul to society and conforming REALLY the only way of arriving at inner peace and satisfaction, as opposed to the feeling that you are eternally untethered and adrift?

The article goes on to say that in later Tolstoy works, this idea was eventually rejected:

“In the later Tolstoy, the confrontation runs between, not inner and outer, but inner and, as it were, innermost. For the later Tolstoy, the layers a novelistic character accumulates–vocation, family, identity–are things to be discarded. Not, here, a thickening into wisdom but a lightening into humility. Not education, but revelation. Not development, but renunciation: the self stripped to its core. The self stripped, finally, of itself.”

I am not sure what it means or looks like, to have “the self stripped to its core,” but it shure sounds pretty and nice. Kind of like Rayuela‘s portrayal of Buddhism. Or Pema Chodron. It definitely makes me want to read more Tolstoy, if nothing else.

Things I am thinking about/looking forward to doing in Oregon:
– Taking a class at PSU (geography? Spanish lit? French? Portuguese? Creative Writing? Education? So many possibilities!! I am just–infinitely lucky!)
– Taking a gardening class at PCC
– Applying to one of those rural writer’s retreats where you live in a log cabin for a week or a month and just make art (I still haven’t forgotten my New Year’s Resolution…)
– Maybe get a part-time job pouring wine in the evening so that I can save up $$$
– Make new FRIENDS! Hang out with my ex co-workers from the B&G Club! Attend a writing workshop! Learn how to fix my falling apart bike! Go to the park and paint and draw!
– Maybe go to L.A. for a week at the end of March (if work schedule permits)
– Um, do a good job at my new job.
– Take LOTS of yoga classes. The more free or pay-what-you-can ones, the better. Look into getting yoga teacher certified?! I am slowly but surely getting more and more flexible; for instance, I can now place my palms flat on the ground. I guess the lesson from this is that change and growth is always possible.
– Mushroom hunting and hiking! Enjoy the beauty of the Pacific Northwest while I can!

“I have lived through much, and now I think I have found what is needed for happiness. A quiet secluded life in the country, with the possibility of being useful to people to whom it is easy to do good, and who are not accustomed to have it done to them; then work which one hopes may be of some use; then rest, nature, books, music, love for one’s neighbor–such is my idea of happiness. And then, on top of all that, you for a mate, and children perhaps–what can more the heart of man desire?”
–“Family Happiness” quote featured in Into the Wild

“When you forgive, you love. And when you love, God’s light shines on you.”–quote from “Into the Wild” film

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Filed under Bildungsroman, books, colombia, future, lists, moody, the self

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