Saturday, December 1, 2012

Journeys with Holden

I re-read Catcher in the Rye this past week.  If you haven't read it as an adult, you might try it--it might make you crazy (Sadly (sorry J.D. Salinger), Holden reminded me of a smart Bella (from Twilight fame), and I was reminded that she, too, in her teen-angstiness was a tad crazy-making).  However, I had to sheepishly acknowledge, that even though we're not quite so dramatic about it (usually), adulthood is wrought with the same types of highs and lows and questions as adolescence.  

I've been considering the idea of the "slinky" metaphor a friend shared with me when I wrote about whether life was a straight line or a circle. She reminded me, and I definitely am awed by, how many things we cycle back through.  I started to bemoan this idea, but then it hit me that each cycle, each coil, brings with it more and more spaciousness, if we're lucky.  So maybe it's a slinky whose diameter is stretched wider and wider as it curves on?  

It took 24 chapters to get there, but, finally, I got to the moment in Catcher in the Rye where Mr. Antolini says, "Among other things, you'll find that you're not the first person who was ever confused and frightened and even sickened by human behavior.  You're by no means alone on that score, you'll be excited and stimulated to know.  Many many men have been just as troubled morally and spiritually as you are right now.  Happily, some of them kept records of their troubles.  You'll learn from them--if you want to.  Just as someday, if you have something to offer, someone will learn something from you" (p. 189).  And you realize that Holden really will move through another couple of chapters.

And maybe it's the widening of the perimeter (if we let it) that widens perspective so we can learn from others?  We will never escape our lived-experiences, no matter how often the scenery changes;  I don't want escape.  We are afforded opportunities to move differently than we have before in our environs because we carry our past with us.  I don't mind that my experiences cycle back on themselves.  I don't mind that I've (once again) given away the bulk of my belongings and am slowly replacing things I've had before.  I like the intentionality of the collection after the purge.  Just as I like the intentionality that comes with the processes behind the widening perspective.  I like the clean spaces and empty drawers, that I can choose to leave that way if I want.  And I like Salinger's metaphor of a carousel for this same process... it's just a ride...  And I love the image of Holden, as he watches his sister ride around and around on the carousel:  "I was damn near bawling, I felt so damn happy, if you want to know the truth.  I don't know why...I wish you could've been there"  (p. 213).

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