I have been led to the book Daring Greatly by Brené Brown, and I am so happy I found it. I am just getting my feet wet in this book, but I already see how much I have been trying to live according to the ideas here, and really can’t help trying to live the opposite of daily, thoughtless drudgery. However, at the same time, I often feel I am actually living exactly the opposite kind of life after all. On the one hand, I believe passionately in raising my children myself, and already gave up the little bit of work I had to do a better job with it, but on the other hand, I do not have the sense that I am making a larger contribution, and that eats away at me. I believe I am “stuck with” (on good days, “committed to”) raising my children and trying to learn how to be a competent homemaker at some point, but I will likely always struggle with feeling that this work counts. And doing work that counts is so important to me.
The book starts with this quotation from Theodore Roosevelt, and I see here what I think I’m physically doing (with the dust and sweat and blood (and poop)), but not necessarily the “worthy cause.” I know I’m enthusiastic and devoted, but I don’t know if that counts if you are not laboring toward something larger than your own family. Here’s the quotation:
The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.
I’m going to keep reading and thinking to see if my work is big enough after all.
For the record, I am reading fiction too: Every Day Is Mother’s Day by Hilary Mantel. This is a dark, almost stifling book, taking place in large part in a house full of ghosts (maybe). This novel is a perfect complement to the other side of me, the one that is “haunted” by sleep filled with nightmares and kinship with less-than-optimistic music and poetry. No one wants to talk about that, though, so we’ll just stick with saying that I am reading Daring Greatly and trying to cheerlead my way through my Grand Midlife Project.