Friday, January 28, 2011

The Wind in the Willows

We've just started reading The Wind in the Willows at bedtime, which I've never before read (though I do recall the Disney cartoon version quite well and always sing "We're Merrily on our Way" in my head in our neighborhood due to the streets here being very much like the names recited in the chorus). I found this quote compelling:
Nothing seems really to matter, that's the charm of it. Whether you get away, or whether you don't; whether you arrive at your destination or whether you reach somewhere else, or whether you never get anywhere at all, you're always busy, and you never do anything in particular; and when you've done it there's always something else to do, and you can do it if you like, but you'd much better not.
It so happens to be the bit that both children fell asleep to, but it reminded me of my life, especially lately as I lament my lack of motivation and the cold and all the problems going on in my life that seem on the one hand insubstantial yet inspire lengthy complaints to close friends. Every day I detail the ways in which I feel unmotivated then make attempts at rationalizing the ways in which I accomplish enough. This quote is like that: trying to describe what enough is, what it looks like, how it goes.

It also calls to mind when I was doing similar lamenting to a friend this past fall, whining about all the things to do and the struggle to drag boys about trying to do things. She cut me off with, "and boys don't care!" And I, feeling self-righteous and indignant said, "You're right! They don't!" Then she said the most surprising thing I think I'd ever heard and knew and yet somehow never saw before, "Which is awesome."

It had simply never occurred to me that the boys lack of interest in almost anything included in externally-motivated definitions of "value" might be seen as a boon. The Water Rat says it right there and it applies to boys and unschooling and all of it: it doesn't matter what you do. Whatever it is, it fills up time, space. Water Rat is so existential, when you think about it. Do amazing things, recognize that they are as common and as necessary as sweeping the floor. It's all about intention.


Donna said...

A good thing to read right now, thank you.

I've never actually read The Wind in the Willows either, although I'm pretty sure I must have a copy around here somewhere, left over from my book dealer days.

Rachel said...

I love these last two posts and marvel at how many things in our lives overlap. We just read the first chapters of The Wind in the Willows in a bookstore last week. It was a beautifully new illustrated copy, but it was also abridged, so I wasn't sure it was the version I wanted to read. But I agree, it seems like a wonderfully philosophical tale, very fitting for our lives. I think there will be great insight there.

Also, I just wrote a (lengthy) post yesterday talking about the need for celebrations, from the grand to the mundane, in our lives. I had never heard of this group, the Celebrationists, but at your mention, I joined immediately. This is exactly what I need, especially in the middle of winter. There's an artist who makes calendars with ideas of silly celebrations, also very artfully designed. Don't know if you've seen them, but they are also very pretty:

Rebecca said...

Wonderful thoughts.