Thursday, February 23, 2012

Insane, but Necessary

I don't think I've mentioned this yet: I'm traveling up the West Coast, trying to find a place I want to live.

Disclaimer: these pics don't have much to do with this post, except for the journeying trope.

One of my favorite scenes in Cary Fukunaga's Jane Eyre is this one in the very beginning - where Jane is running away from Rochester.

Sounds very straightforward when I put it that way, doesn't it? It almost seems like I have a plan. This is not precisely true. It's a weird nomadic sort of life. I don't know precisely where I'll be sleeping a week and a half from now, and most people find that a very frightening thought. Actually, sometimes, I find that very frightening.

NOTE: Life is scary. And amazing. The trick is learning how to let it be both at the same time.

Living my life this way seems insane to most people. I'm fully aware of that, and I've just figured out why it makes perfect sense to me:

I've always justified my crazy-seeming actions. I'm used to it.

Jane finds herself at the crossroads, and she tries to figure out where to go. But she has a problem: she knows that Rochester will look for her and search these paths.


Q: What? You want to go to a semester-long program in coastal Maine where you live in log cabins heated by wood stoves, work on an organic farm, and learn about the environment with thirty-some other high school juniors? [The Are you crazy? is implied in their tone.]

A: Yes, it'll look great on my college applications.

(Note to young readers: If you want to do unusual stuff, I highly recommend this excuse. But then you should actually use it in your college apps. I did, and I got into a great school.)


Q: What? You want to move to New York, without a job? And go to a summer post-grad program designed to train professionals in publishing? The same industry that everyone says is dying and short on jobs?

A: Yes. I've talked about becoming a writer since kindergarten. When else will I get a chance to learn the industry from the inside?

So, eventually Jane decides to ditch the roads and cut across the moors.


Q: What? You want to give up your hardwon, well-placed job in New York and try to get published? In this terrible economy?

A: Yes. Unfortunately, the noise and energy of New York have given me insomnia, which has led to some unforeseen health problems. I need to move to recover.

Now, the answers I gave were not the whole answer. But what can we glean here?

#1. Where there is great risk, there will always be naysayers.

#2. I take risks. (But honestly, so do we all. I just didn't realize how many gambles I've taken with my whole life in the past ten years.)

#3. You can get naysayers off your backs by framing an answer around something most people value - education, career, and health.

Talk about the road less traveled. The moors are basically the wilderness. Nice, sheltered, educated young governesses just don't trot off into the wilderness on their own. It's just not done.

I love this scene in the book too, btw.

But I don't have a ready-made excuse this time.

My reasons are the same reasons I had for the above examples, the reasons that I didn't say outloud: I want to. It'll be a great experience. I've been talking about it for years.

And one more, which is even harder to define: It feels like the right thing to do.

Yes, it is probably insane. That doesn't make it unnecessary.

I am twenty-five. Both of my jobs can travel with me on my laptop. I know that I won't always have the opportunity to be so nomadic. I also know that if I don't do this, one day, decades from now, when I have children, a mortgage, and other responsibilities, I will wish I did.

The great and scary thing is, I'm not required to explain myself to anyone anymore. That's the benefit of being a grown-up.

Brace yourself for some cheese-tasticness, folks: I try to live my life the way my characters do. I try to be true to myself, and as cliche as it sounds, I am following my heart.

Those decisions? The ones that seemed nuts? They're the ones I appreciate the most.

In their aftermath, I grew the most.


F.T. Bradley: said...

The West Coast is nice, enjoy :-)

And amen to all this.

Shelby Bach said...

Thank you, Fleur!! I am enjoying myself so far. :-)