Tuesday, January 24, 2006

The Practical Rut

I have friends who think deep thoughts. They wrestle with weighty issues about society and politics and religion and the nature of humanity on a regular basis. They write poetry, and music, and creative non-fiction. Some of them write fiction, too.

My husband is one of these people. And once upon a time, so was I.

Last week I stopped over at my friend J-tron's blog and saw this post, and decided that I am entirely too stupid to continue reading his blog. Seriously, I cannot wrap my mind around half of what he writes about. This disturbs me.

I used to more or less hold my own with him, when we used to stay out late at coffee houses discussing this or that, or even better, when we would stay up all night talking on the phone. I believe I actually fell asleep on the phone with him at least once.

We had so much to talk about, so much to think about, so many ideas to explore.

Those ideas are still out there, but I have begun letting them whiz right by without stopping to take a turn in my brain. My brain is full of boring details like menus and grocery lists and feeding/sleeping/playing schedules and trying to figure out when I last watered my houseplants. (Answer: Not recently enough, since the one on top of the bookshelf is wilted and turning brown.)

But this is not a new phenomenon. [Completely off-topic side note: Phenomenon was the last movie I saw in the theater with my very first boyfriend. He loved movies. We went to see this one, and the theater was full of teenage girls who all ohh'ed and ahh'ed when John Travolta came on the screen, like he was some kind of heart throb. I myself was a teenage girl, at the time. It repulsed me. Travolta is old enough to have fathered most of those girls.]

I would love to chalk the decline of my brain cells to my new status as mother, but in truth it began long before that. It began back in college, where suddenly I felt ridiculous spending hours discussing philosophical theories or the lives and motivations of literary characters. I mean really. Who cares about Lilly Bart or why she can't get her act together and get a man? She's a fictional character. Discussion her motivations won't change anything. I promise. Edith Wharton will not rewrite the novel from the great beyond just because I think Lilly is an idiot.

Such was the choice I made. Practical over philosophical. The only problem is that now, I can't seem to go back. And I'm stuck in a very practical rut.


Heth said...

Goslyn, I love this post and can totally relate.

Philosophy is over rated. It doesnt get the laundry done. :)

Mel said...

You and me, both.

Gina said...

I don't know, I thought your comment about Travolta was pretty deep. Was there a connection between this being the last movie you saw with your boyfriend and disagreement over the oohing and aahing over Travolta, or did I just totally read deeper than I should have?

p.s. your blog is as cool as a giant bag of Cheetos.

Jess said...

As someone who really wants to be a mom (but not yet), I find your blog fascinating, much more so than some "philosphical" blogs.

Great books tend to inspire me to think about new things, or old things from a new p.o.v. If you don't already have a mile-high stack of books to read and ever want any recommendations, just let me know!

Stephanie said...

How well I relate to this! The first graduate class I took after being a mom...painful. I thought, I will never figure this stuff out. But after a few weeks, and some serious practicing, then I seemed to get whatever it was I needed to get at the time. Makes me think that whatever we REALLY need to think about, our brain can handle it. Otherwise, trying to decide if I should wash clothes on the warm or cold cycle is all I need to worry about.

mopsy said...

I went from Professional Student to mommy in one year. It did a number on me and it is only recently I've been able to wrap my mind around concepts and philosophies I used to play with so easily.

Great post. Makes me think.

Judy said...

There is a deep secret that you need to be made aware of.

Eventually, Tom will find delightful ways to occupy himself, and at those very times, you can play at whatever it is you have missed playing at!

I got pretty good at the piano while my kids threw blocks at each other.

I read deep books while they sang along with the Elephant Show.

I invited over like-minded friends and we discussed world events while the kids smeared frosting on gingerbread boys, and each other.

And, I have found that even though I am not college educated (i wish i were and still might go that route) I didn't allow my mind to shrivel up and die.

I can keep up my end of the conversation with my collage educated children and friends, and even from time to time astound them with the simple fact that I have not only read the books they are talking about, I own them. This helps them out immensely, as then they do not have to buy them!

Still, most days I forget to eat. Although you wouldn't gather that from looking at me.

Anonymous said...

As a grad student in philosophy, I find it sometimes annoying when people say such things as "Philosophy is over rated. It doesnt get the laundry done. :)". Sorry, don't mean to pick on you, heth.

Now, I don't mean to be saying philosophy is what everyone should spent their time doing, but there is nothing wrong with it. And yes, it is as important as any other purely academic discipline. It is what keeps the university grinding out new thinkers. It is what forces the business school to check itself by requiring the future business leaders of tommorrow to take ethics classes.

So, philosophy is okay, but so is not doing philosophy. And if you feel bad because other people judge you that way, don't worry about them. Other people shouldn't expect you to be anything in particular, not even philosophical if you don't wanna.

That said, I think your complaint is personal. It sounds like you want to take part of some abstract thinking, but are worried you've lost the ability. Got to tell you, don't fret on that account. Start reading some tough books you've been meaning to read, and that ability will come right back. Its like riding a bicycle, I promise :)