When I was in eighth grade, we had silent reading time. I loved silent reading time – probably one of the most comfortable periods of time I had while in school. The teacher would spread a bunch of books on a table, and we could go up and sign one out. We would read the book, and have to write a report on it whenever we were finished.
I remember the time when I picked up the book Homecoming, by Cynthia Voight. It was the thickest book on the pile, but that is not why I chose it. I really enjoyed reading books about people going through struggles, and how they overcame them. They took me out of my own rather traumatic life, and brought me into the midst of people who were having challenges of their own.
In this book, a group of (I think) four siblings were abandoned by their mother in the parking lot of a shopping mall, and decided to make their way to their only relative – one they had never met, and only knew of from the address written on a lunch bag.
They had very little money, and very little food, and had a very long walk ahead of them.
The idea of sleeping outside, surviving off of bananas and peanut butter sandwiches (which was all they could often afford) and finding ways to make up even a little bit of money so that they could carry on, appealed to me.
It wasn’t that I wanted to live that way, or wanted such things to happen to me, but my soul seems to awaken in crisis. I don’t want that. I am anxious even at the best of times. But when there is no option but to try to survive, my mind goes into overdrive, and I think, “I can do that.”
It is the day to day living, whether calm or painful, that is so hard for me.
I suppose if something really bad had happened to them, the idea would have frightened me more. But the book was more about struggles, exhaustion, and worry, than about anything really bad. They had a goal, and they strived to reach it, for there was nothing more they could do.
Goals are something I can live for. To have an exact picture of where I am headed, and a time frame of getting there… I can do that. It is when things go on, seemingly forever, that I fall apart. It isn’t that having goals takes away the anxiety, either. No, it becomes even stronger when I have something I am working for – but that the end is in sight – whether something like the end of a college course, or the finalization of an adoption – helps me to keep going and fight past that anxiety.
However when things go beyond the time I expected them to take – like when the finalization papers were ‘lost’ for our adoption, and we no longer had a set time for how long it would take for that to go through, or when at a job (that is hoped to last indefinitely), that causes me to fall apart.
I don’t know why I live for crisis. I am not even sure that I do. It is just that maybe a crisis results only in things that must be done, and then will end as life settles – and life itself? Goes on until death.