Joan Didion wrote a book about her years in California called “Play It As It Lays.” I read from it last week and found her writing rather dated when compared with two of her recent books, “A Year of Magical Thinking” and “Blue Nights.” These very personal memoirs filled with grief for the deaths of her husband and adopted daughter elevated the content and perhaps that’s what set them apart from her earlier work.
I have been thinking about what “as it lays,” might mean in terms of some of my own actions lately. For instance, I have noticed that sometimes I have an idea in the abstract about being independent, looking for a place (real or imagined) where life would be different. I try these ideas on and when I do, discover a huge difference between mind and matter.
When hard reality hits and things come down to earth again, what I’ve learned in these little experiments is that freedom is a state of mind, not a place or thing. When they say, “inner freedom” the operative word is “inner.” You can’t buy inner peace (noticed that I just equated freedom with peace.) So it’s fruitless to search for it by doing too much, piling on more than we can handle.
I’ve noticed that my pace is slower than what goes on in my mind because it’s important for me to process things as I go along. That takes time and when I’m behind in processing what’s happening, I am out of sorts and feel ill at ease.Life has been pretty frenetic lately and I am both wondering why and how to slow it down to make a soft landing. “As it lays” isn’t going to change unless I know what it is. A quiet space and being still may help to regain perspective. Let’s hope there was some there to begin with.