The Literary Life

I was looking through the music of John Denver on emusic the other day (don't be a cynic, his voice melts me--I swear, if a guy sweetly and sincerely sang "Annie's Song" to me I think I would fall instantly in love). And I remembered that when I was born (on Christmas Eve) my mom was watching the John Denver and the Muppets Christmas Special in her hospital bed. So I started thinking about how I had a special connection to that soundtrack, and to the music of John Denver, since it was one of the first things I heard when I came onto the earth's scene.

And I thought about a lot of other things in my life--metaphors that I have seen in my story, and that I have used to make sense of my life and to bring texture to my narrative. Like, I treat certain events or facts about my life in a very character-driven literary sense--and then I think about them, and digest them, and see how they fit in and help me make sense of my story and identity. There really isn't any difference (other than the level of investment) in how I look for threads and foreshadowing and symbolism in a novel, and how I look for it in my own life. A few examples are:
  • I was baptized in the Russian Orthodox Church (OCA), at a small, missionary congregation that met in a room of a mortuary. What a great metaphor of life coming out of death--being baptized in a green, plastic tub in a mortuary! Then there's a lot I could say about the Russian connection, but I'll leave it just at the metaphor of the physical baptism.
  • I am an only child. This, in a larger sense, is like a foreshadowing or metanarrative of isolation and loneliness. Alone-ness.
  • My big, loud singing voice that can make grown people weep (and not only because they wish they had earplugs..) that I refuse to share with a larger audience of people (leading worship doesn't count to me, since I don't consider it a performance). It's like a tangible symbol of this general trend I have of having trouble being in the spotlight--especially in a positive way.

I could go on, these are just a few random ones I could think of right off.

At first I thought, "Maybe that's weird to look at my life in such a literary way, and to be seeing all these plot devices in my own life story." Then I thought, it's not like symbolism, foreshadowing, metaphor, and thematic threads were created by novelists--rather, part of the reason novelists use them, and part of the reason they are effective, is that these serendipitous, "literary" moments happen in our lives all the time if we are just open to seeing them. And I wonder how involved God is in the whole thing--like, how much God is setting things up, or using certain "plot points", etc... Anyway, I rather like thinking of life in this literary, narrative way, and I wonder how much God delights in these literary moments, that I find so beautiful and thrilling; and I think about God's role in creating these moments.

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Blogger mishabomb said...

B, another moment of synchronicity and along the lines of our conversation re: foreshadowing, etc. today. I never put my hair in pigtails but suddenly I thought: I'd like to put my hair in pigtails, I wish I had two hair ties. I looked on my wrist, there were two hair ties. Didn't know!

12:11 PM  

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