I'm in the middle of reading Spellbinder by Melanie Rawn, and I've found a conversation about connections that has really struck me.
Before introducing the quote I need to say a few things about the book-
1. I like the characters- I mean I really like them... Rawn has drawn sympathetic, real, fun people and I want to know what happens to them. The bad guys stink, and you love to hate them.
2. I don't like the overall book... I'm not sure exactly why. It's a little full of itself- a little pompous, pretentious, snobby.
3. It has a couple diatribes against Christians that I find very frustrating- lumping all of them together with over-wrought fanatics and self-righteous puritanical bigots.
4. However, for some reason, I've been compelled to read the whole thing- Even though I get annoyed with Rawn's snootiness at times, I want to know what happens to these people. They've become real to me. I care about them. I want to know how it all works out.
So, here's the section about connections. It's on pages 322 & 323 in the hardcover edition:
"But here (in New York), there's so much of everything. So many lives, all separate- you say I'm not connected to New York, but is anybody here really connected to anybody else? Outside of family and friends, I mean. There's contact- hell, walking down the street is a contact sport- but is there connection?"
"I think the intertwining is not often acknowledged. New York is the greatest city in the world- which means it's the most excessive city in the world. Wealth, poverty, art, ugliness, generosity, violence- all outsized. But it weaves together."
"I think the word you want is 'tangles,'" she retorted. "And no tapestries, please- the image is uninspired. Okay, I can see that after 9/11, yeah, connections were made. Martin told me that he and Ian realized it was the first time in their lives they didn't feel hyphenated. Not African-American, but Americans. The United States finally became their country- and they descend from slaves who god damned built half the United States!"
"We were all shocked into seeing each other. It's a disgrace that it took 9/11 to do it, because we've all been here living with each other all along."
"Not 'with,' Alec. 'Among.' The connections were made out of hideous necessity. Some still exist, I'm sure. But-" ...
Is there a limit to the number of people you can know? Really know, I mean, not just nod to at the bank or the market. How many people allow you to see them- and how many do you allow yourself to be seen by?"
Very, very few," she mused. "I could do a whole lecture about socialization within the family, tribe and clan, and keeping relationships structured-... The point is that evolution didn't wire us for infinite number of connections. In a city like this we guard our personal space, and that means seeing only a finite number of people. But when we look at each other, we should see the possibilities."
It isn't often that I see the possibilities in people... I get distracted very easily- by people's problems, my problems, my heart... It's very easy for me to get overwhelmed by the difficulties going on around me. I'm afraid of being hurt. So my tendency is to focus on the things that have to be done, rather than the people around me.
In Kotzebue I learned to shut down to protect myself. I came into a very tightly woven community built on native culture & values, and I did not fit in. I was too blonde, too white, too Californian- so I built a bubble around myself. My intention was to protect my heart and feelings. But the bubble became a trap. I was so tightly closed up that I couldn't let people in easily.
I've finally learned how to let people in, but it's still an issue... I'm never sure where the edge of the bubble should be- how close should I let people? How much do I let myself be seen? Do people really want to see me? I have a tendency to either keep people way far away or let them in further than they really want... I'm not a socially comfortable person... It's so much easier to keep people at a distance, but I know I need to be connected. That's one of the needs hard-wired into me.
God, help me see the possibilities in people. Please, give me your insight. I'm not socially adept & I'm not comfortable just hanging out, but, more than anything, I want to do your will. I want to see people how you do, and not get focused on things. I want to focus on the eternal, not the temporal...
"But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses."
1 Timothy 6:11&12
To me, this passage specifies that I am to take hold of the eternal life... The things that will last forever- People. Their hearts and minds and souls. That's it... Not money. Not jobs. Not my beads. Not clothes. Not my house. Not my writing... Nothing else is going to last into forever.
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