don't let your lived life become a protracted mourning

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The other day, while waiting an hour or so down the road for a friend to arrive for a long-planned lunch date, I stole a few minutes with the February 25 issue of The New Yorker, which I had slipped into my oversized bag.

The magazine fell to page 77, Joan Acocella's story on Adam Phillips, called "This is Your Life." This first paragraph needs no Kephart intercessions. Just read it, and see if, on this day at least, it might save you. The photo above, by the way, is of Jeb Stuart Wood, whom I profiled in the Inquirer on Sunday. He's a foundry man at work here on a piece for the great sculptress Michele Oka Doner. Behind him are the old mobiles he restores when he finds time. Elsewhere are his own sculptures, suspended and waiting. I thought of Jeb often after my interview that day—of how broadly and peaceably he was living.

From The New Yorker:
Adam Phillips, Britain's foremost psychoanalytic writer, dislikes the modern notion that we should all be out there fulfilling our potential, and this is the subject of his new book, "Missing Out: In Praise of the Unlived Life (Farrar, Straus & Giroux). Instead of feeling that we should have a better life, he says, we should just live, as gratifyingly as possible, the life we have. Otherwise, we are setting ourselves up for bitterness. What makes us think we could have been a contender? Yet, in the dark of the night, we do think this, and grieve that it isn't possible. "And what was not possible all too easily becomes the story of our lives," Phillips writes. "Our lived lives might become a protracted mourning for, or an endless trauma about, the lives we were unable to live."


Elizabeth Mosier said...

So true. Thank you for sharing this, Beth!

Kelly Simmons said...

I have nothing to say about this article I just want to say that I am still laughing about our exchange this morning. You are so funny that you could never be in protracted mourning. There. Full circle!

patti.mallett_pp said...

This is so often in my Thinker - good to find someone in agreement -and it's encouragement to hang on to this belief. Thanks, Beth. Once again, you've hit the mark in my heart. xo

Becca said...

This message has been coming to me from so many different directions lately. It is one I need to hear, and hear often, and it's expressed just beautifully here.

Thank you for being another angel messenger :)

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