Wednesday, May 5, 2010

No Jelly

This is a fitting excerpt for this blog's intent and purpose.

When my friend Susan and I used to write letters back and forth twenty some years ago ~ or rather she wrote 5 to my one ~ this was a handwritten plea to tempt me to find and read the book. I did. Back then, I was determined NOT to let this hideous thing happen. I wonder if it has, without me noticing?

"...Death is not the enemy; age is not the enemy. These things are inevitable, they happen to everybody. But what we ought to fear is the kind of death that happens in life. It can happen at any time. You're going along and then, at some point, you congeal. You know, like jelly. You're not fluid anymore. You solidify at a certain point and from then on your life is doomed to be a repetition of what you have done before.

That's the enemy. There are two kinds of people walking around on the earth. One kind you can tell just by looking at them at what point they congealed into their final selves. It might be a very nice self but you know you can expect no more surprises from it. Whereas, the other kind keep moving and changing. With these people, you can never say, 'X stops here' or 'I know all there is to know about Y'. And that's the kind of person I hope I shall be always.

I said, 'but if there are always changing & moving, couldn't that mean they are unstable?' 

Far from it. They are fluid. They keep moving forward and making new trysts with life, and the motion of it keeps them young. They are the only ones who are still alive.

And how will I know if it starts to happen to me? I asked. 

Well, if you wake up one morning and think: another day to get through, that might be a danger signal. Though not necessarily. Everyone has dreary interims. You just have to distinguish between a dreary interim and the onset of jellification. However, if you catch yourself becoming complacent, I'd say that was a bad sign. Or repeatedly choosing the old, familiar routine rather than rousing yourself and striking out for new territory, whether it's mental or emotional, or actually going somewhere new.

If you ever feel it coming, she said, you must do something quickly. The best antidote I have found is to yearn for something. As long as you yearn, you can't congeal: there is a forward motion to yearning.

Now, my thoughts go forward to meet hers. I know something of life's betrayals and stupidities myself. I know the ashy taste of not living up to some part of your dream. I even know the necessity for making constant adjustments to your life story so you can go on living it. But I also know something else that I didn't know then. As long as you can go on creating new roles for yourself, you are not vanquished. 

Excerpts from The Finishing School by Gail Godwin

Thanks Sue, for uncovering it again. I love organized friends who find good things to share and remember how to retrieve them later.


  1. As I typed this for you I, too wondered if I had jellied.

    No, friend. We haven't. Nor will we. End of speculation.

  2. Wow. great post.

    I guess if I keep walking my 1000 hikes, I can't jellify. Moving things don't, you know.

  3. "If you ever feel it coming. . . do something quickly. . . ." Great line.

    Excellent post.


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