Her post got me thinking. . . which isn’t much of a surprise. Novelists are contemplative people. It’s our nature and our practice. I’ve blogged before about the disruptive power of writing a novel. I’ve learned through experience that being reflective and contemplative, while immensely helpful in many ways, has a downside. Here is a recent example of how our ruminative practices can interfere with life:
Steve kicks the tire of a sandy brown mini-van. “What do you think?”
I stare at his foot. Moses comes to mind. He struck a rock twice and then wasn’t allowed into the Promised Land.
Steve clears his throat. “Lovely?” (He calls me Lovely)
I shake my head. “Disobedience is tricky, isn’t it? It isn’t a simple case of cause and effect. Do or don’t do. It’s motives, and meanings.” I pull out my note book, start scribbling down words.
Steve straightens his spine as if bracing for a gale. “Is there something you want to tell me, Bonnie?”
I point to the ground with my pen. “Your foot. Reminded me of Moses.”
Pastor Steve needs no further explanation. He switches tactics. “Would Moses buy this mini-van?”
Later, we’re driving home in our new mini-van. From the backseat, Ben hands me a paper from his backpack. “It’s about the penny drive for the school.”
I scan the note. I’m aghast. “You can’t participate in this, Ben!”
Ben and Steve speak as one. “Why not?”
“It’s unethical!” I wave the paper around like a manifesto.
Steve smiles at the traffic. “Mommy has been reading philosophy again.”
I cross my arms in front of me and adopt a schoolteacher voice. “Penny drives are exclusivist. They reward the wealthy simply because they are wealthy. And they punish the poor.”
Heather squeaks from the backseat. “I don’t want to be punished.”
Ben says, “Punished how? Like a spanking?”
Heather holds her breath.
I turn in my seat so I can face my children. “Meritocracy must be challenged at every opportunity.”
“I was wrong,” Steve says. “Mommy is reading sociology, not philosophy.”
I tap Heather’s knee. “Breathe Sweetie, no one is going to punish you.”
Her brown eyes shine. “I didn’t mean to be merry-talk-city.” She turns to Ben. “Did you?”
He shakes his head. “No way! I’m never going to be merry-talk-city.” He thinks for a moment. “Or smoke.”
Heather picks up his cause and points to the heavens. “Smoking is bad!”
Ben hollers, “Smoking must be challenged at every opportunity!”
Steve sighs. “You’re going to have them walking around slapping cigarettes out of people’s hands.”
I turn around and face forward. I stare at the paper in my hand. My voice is small and quiet. “Well, there are worse things they could do.”
That night I kiss my husband goodnight.
He says, “So you are writing about Moses?”
I stare at him as if he’d sprouted a third eye. “Why on earth would you think that? Moses?”
“You were thinking about Moses at the car dealership today. I figured. . .”
I flap my hand at him. “I’m not writing about Moses. Someone else has already done that. It was you kicking the tire that brought up Moses.”
He grins. “Must have been a macho, patriarchal sort of kick, eh?”
I think for a moment. “Are you aware how much early twentieth century Christian literature was misogynic?
Steve turns the light out. “Tell you what,” he says in the dark. “I won’t kick any more tires if you won’t keep me up half the night talking about misogyny and Moses. Deal?”
My mind whirls.