Friday, January 11, 2013

Trusting the Madman

I'll bet, when Debbie announced on Wednesday that our theme for this year would be "Carpe Annum!" (Seize the Year!) that at least 50% of you - the ones who've been reading long enough to know what movies I like and how I think - I'll bet you thought I was going to quote from The Dead Poets Society.

I almost did. The quote that intrigued me most from the movie was Todd Anderson's impromptu poem, because the scene is one of my favorites. It perfectly demonstrates the Yawp!, the seizing of the day that Mr. Keating urges.

I close my eyes,
And this image floats beside me:
A sweaty-toothed madman with a stare that pounds my brain.
His hands reach out and choke me,
And all the time he's mumbling,
Mumbling truth,
Truth like a blanket that always leaves your feet cold.
You push it, stretch it, it'll never be enough.
You kick at it, beat it, it'll never cover any of us.
From the moment we enter crying to the moment we leave dying,
It'll just cover your face as you wail and cry and scream. 

The sweaty-toothed madman could easily be not Walt Whitman (the subject of Todd Anderson's poem) but the short-sheeting God of the Book of Job, who demands trust without explanation. Have you met him?

But I didn't quote this poem, because the end of it seemed to tell only part of the story. It left out the eucatastrophe, the surprise at the end when Job sees God face to face, and in that warmth and wonder forgets what explanation it was he'd wanted.

Have you lived long enough to understand?

Sometimes I think, just barely, I might have lived that long.

Last September I experienced a eucatastrophe of my own, the day I sadly conceded to the equiring voice in my head that the time had come for me to find a job. The area I live in is short on jobs, and the ones available - so far as I knew... Well.

The internal conversation went like this:

"Why are you so resistant to getting a job?"

"Because I've had jobs I hated, and I'm afraid I'll get one like that, and then I'll be trapped."

"Yes, but you've had jobs you loved. What if you found one you loved?"

"That would be different."

And fifteen minutes later, standing in the grocery line, my phone vibrated, and when I checked, I found a Facebook announcement for a job that I would love - if I could get it.

I did get it.

And I don't know the words to tell you how much I love what I'm doing. I work in a Family Resource Center, where I get to help struggling families find resources to meet their expenses, put food on the table and love their children well.

What I do know is that with my life so re-arranged, my next novel will be written from a new perspective, from a different rock on whatever mountain it is that I'm climbing. I'm very curious about what I'm going to say.

So the movie I'd actually like to quote is Kate & Leopold, where Kate says:

"It’s wonderful to get what you want. It’s really a great thing… unless what you thought you wanted wasn't really what you wanted because what you really want, you couldn't imagine or didn't think it was possible. What if someone came along who knew exactly what you wanted without even asking? They just knew, like they could hear your heart beating or listen to your thoughts… and what if they were sure of themselves and didn't need to take a poll… and they loved you, and you hesitated?... and I… I have to go."

What if the sweaty-toothed madman loves you? What if he can hear your heart beating? Wouldn't that be the Eucatastrophe to beat all?

Take the leap. Make this your year to forget what you thought you knew, and allow the sweaty-toothed madman to lead you to the thing you didn't know you wanted.

He's sure of himself. He knows.

What if you hesitated?

You have to go.


Megan Sayer said...

You know Katy this is exactly...EXACTLY...what I'm learning this week. Ack!
Thank you for the reassurance. I needed to read that tonight.

Suzy Parish said...

Love this! God bless you!!!

Kathleen Popa said...

Megan and Suzy, Ack! :)

I'm glad you're here.

Sharon K. Souza said...

Katy, I love this post. Love it.

Patti Hill said...

These words are like a call to arms. Thanks, Katy. I love you!

Henrietta Frankensee said...

The ability - nay the permission to think of God as The Madman is very rare and precious. Those who have the least ability give the least permission to themselves and others.
He makes utterly no sense to us and we can't understand how we can make sense to Him. We refuse to allow that He can see more than we can. But those of us who dare... Trust in the guidance of the Madman is euphoric.
I find I have to be actually engaged in writing before He guides me. The story needs to be in my focus, the pen in my hand helps too but is not a requirement. He is a Mad Gentleman who waits for me to want what He has. After that, of course, it's a wild ride.

Cherry Odelberg said...

Oh. Oh. Um. Yeah. Bye.

Susie Finkbeiner said...

Wow. Really. That's all I've got.


And...Thank you.

Kathleen Popa said...

Thanks, all of you, for the kind comments. I'm proud of the ladies I write with here at Novel Matters, and of the community of talented writers who meet in the comments. Here's to the wild ride.

Latayne C Scott said...

Cherry, did we wave you away? I hope not!