You may notice that the Quick Takes participant list is smaller today than usual. That’s because some folks are participating in #GoDark4Life, a day of going offline for prayer and fasting in honor of the March for Life. Med student, tireless advocate, and blogger extraordinaire Katie explains it here.
I’m super excited about the March for Life, because it touches on an issue near and dear to my heart. For those of you who aren’t familiar with my journey on this topic, here are a couple of things I’ve written about it:
- Why I was pro-choice based out of love for women, and what changed my mind
- Why I sympathize with the anger of the pro-choice counter-protestors at the March for Life
Wonderful friends and folks from our parish have been bringing us meals to help out as my recovery continues (thanks to Martina kindly setting up a CareCalendar). I feel self-conscious that I’ve been doing better, and have no visible symptoms of being ill. The meals are still a tremendous blessing, and are very much needed since I’m still not at 100% (or even that close to it). But I worry that the folks dropping off the food are starting to suspect this is some kind of scam. The other day a super sweet lady from the parish came by with a steaming gourmet dinner for our entire family, complete with appetizers and dessert. I had just gotten back from a doctor’s appointment so I was dressed up and wearing makeup; I’d been resting most of the day so I was unusually energetic. She seemed tired from having worked so hard to cook for our entire family in addition to her own, and I used my Neurotic ESP to determine that she was wondering why I wasn’t cooking for her.
I told Joe that I should get some crutches for when I answer the door for people delivering meals, as a symbolic gesture to assure them that their efforts were not wasted. He looked at me like I was insane, and pointed out the obvious fact that my problem is with my lungs and that I would have no use for crutches under any circumstances. I said that I know, but they sell them at the grocery store, and I didn’t know where to get my hands on a ventilator — and, again, it’s all for symbolism anyway. He backed away from me slowly and went to pour himself a large glass of wine.
While we’re on the subject of Downton Abbey (not that anyone was talking about it, but I assume that it’s an omnipresent subject in all of our minds), that show recently led me to a profound realization: I’m not an introvert, I just live in the wrong culture! One of the things I relish about each episode is all the wonderful RULES for social engagement you see there. Joe is always bewildered by these scenes where someone clearing his throat can mean something as complicated as, “I would like for the person seated to my left to leave the room and for the conversation to return to the subject we were speaking of earlier.” He says that he’d go crazy in a culture with so many unspoken intricacies, but it’s all right up my alley.
I absolutely love this idea of socializing frequently, but under the most carefully controlled of circumstances. Nobody in Downton just trots off to hang out with someone else at the spur of the moment! Perish the thought! Nay, you send hand-written notes over a period of weeks to arrange everything, and then you send your staff ahead of time to prepare everything at your host’s house to your comfort. At dinner, the host decides everyone’s place around the table, so there are no awkward exchanges about who sits next to whom. Then you retire to the parlor for more relaxed banter over drinks, and when the butler conspicuously remarks about the late hour, everyone immediately understands that the party is over and promptly leaves.
THIS is what I am missing in my life! I would socialize every day if I could just get about 50,000 rules nailed down for the parameters of interaction. So, I guess what I’m saying is that the problem is not me, but the minor inconvenience of the fact that I am not rich and English and living in a manor in 1910.
I was surprised at how much fun I had writing up my #1 blogging tip yesterday. Lately I’ve been particularly inspired by this idea being wholly yourself. Perhaps because our family has been the recipient of so much kindness in recent weeks, I’ve been exposed to the wonderful variety of gifts and talents that exist within our group of friends, and I see how much the world very much needs each and every personality type.
If you need some inspiration on this idea of being boldly yourself, think of the Dowager Countess (because, yes, it all comes back to Downton Abbey):
Imagine if a real woman with a fabulous personality like hers had self-consciously decided that maybe she should tone it down, not be so formal about everything, throw on a pair of cut off jean shorts and just hang loose for a while. Would the world be a better place? Heck, no!
If you’re interested in this subject at all, you really need to read the book Steal Like an Artist. It’s inspiring on a lot of levels, but Austin Kleon makes some powerful points about how to effectively draw inspiration from others while maintaining your unique voice. In the quest to embrace our God-given personalities, it can be tempting to throw the baby out with the bath water and reject all outside influences. But Kleon makes the case that all great people are heavily influenced by others who came before them — the trick is learning the difference between aping someone else’s work and drawing inspiration from someone else’s work. Though he’s specifically talking about artists, I think the lessons apply to everyone.
(And it’s worth noting that this is a book that you really want to get on paper rather than as an ebook. Kleon clearly intended for the visuals on the page to work with the text, and I hear that it doesn’t work nearly as well in the ebook as in the hardcopy.)
My prayers are with all of you headed to the March for Life! For those of you who can’t make it, EWTN will have live coverage here (scroll down and click on the Watch Live link on the right).