Saturday, March 02, 2013

The Path Untravelled

I read a lot. For pleasure mainly. But I am so struck by passages from different books that I write them down. And reflect on them. Allowing them to percolate and take hold. I am currently reading The Great Fire by Shirley Hazzard. I adored her Transit of Venus so much I gifted it to several friends who felt as I did.

Her The Great Fire is about a post WW2 world.

Examples, Page 6:
"In the wake of so much death, the necessity to assemble life became both urgent and oppressive."

Page 102:
"Dignitary is a one word oxymoron."

And several times in the book:
"When we're indecisive, the wishes of others gain."

I was struck by that phrase as I read it again this morning. It's clear to me that many times in my life I was indecisive. Afraid. Not pro-active.

Which got me to thinking of what makes us decisive? At what point do we let our own children, for instance, make their own decisions about their lives?

My father made many decisions for me, my career for one. I had wanted to be a writer from the first moment I set pencil to paper. His decision not to allow me to pursue this (in those days it was considered far too radical in the Ireland I grew up in and what would the neighbours say?)so I crunched numbers. Like he did. Like most of my siblings did in their own ways. Safe and secure. Education in those days being so wasted on a woman who would throw it all away on marriage and babies anyway which was the life Gawd intended for her, their being no greater glory for a mere woman - apart from being The Bride of a Polygamous Christ.

I mean my life has worked out, don't get me wrong, and I've lived long enough to explore that part of me that was so successfully and complicitly squelched, once the rest of my life's responsibilities were managed or put to rest.

My thought this morning was: What if I had been decisive way back then, and stood up to him (a daunting, brave act it would be even now, if he had lived)and declared : "My mind is made up. I won't be anything else but a writer!"

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Anonymous Rummuser said...

Being indecisive is also taking a decision to be so! We are always wiser by hindsight. I have simply looked back and concluded that some mysterious power has been propelling me into the life that I have lived and the same one continues to do so. I just flow and find it quite interesting except when some stressful decisions have to be made to satisfy others.

The point is that all our lives work out one way or the other!

Sat Mar 02, 02:51:00 PM GMT-3:30  
Blogger mel said...

It saddens me that I didn't make my own decisions earlier and live the life I wanted. Of course, it is good that I am living it now....but now I am older. Too much time lost living someone else's life.

Sat Mar 02, 03:52:00 PM GMT-3:30  
Blogger Friko said...

Dear www, I am not sure I understand you entirely here. What stopped you being a writer anyway? Did he knock the confidence out of you? Even now there are passionate writers who write in every spare minute they can find, in between nappy changes, taking kids to school and running a job on the side.

Writing is a state of mind rather than a job you learn at college and then follow from 9 to 5.

I called myself a writer all my life. If only it had been true. Or were true today, now that I have the time and freedom to do so.

Sat Mar 02, 06:35:00 PM GMT-3:30  
Blogger Irene said...

Our parents didn't raise us to be independent thinkers. We were taught to be obedient and especially follow the rules of convention. What a waste of time and happiness that turned out to be. Yes, now that we are older we can finally decide for ourselves who we are and what we do, but it takes years to get that free from the brainwashing. We have to practically reinvent ourselves.

Sat Mar 02, 08:38:00 PM GMT-3:30  
Anonymous Jay at The Depp Effect said...

I can't imagine raising my children like that. Ours were allowed to decide things for themselves as soon as they were able to point and say 'yes' or 'no'. Oh, I don't mean big decisions, just 'which socks do you want to wear today?' at first, and 'what would you like for lunch?' later, and allowing more and more responsibility as they grew. I didn't - and still don't - see how we can expect to produce decisive adults if we don't allow our children to learn how!

Me, I'm horribly indecisive. My parents chose most things for me (though thankfully not a career). My children, on the other hand, are both good at decision making, and I don't think it's unrelated.

You will never know 'what if', but you are a writer now, are you not?

Sat Mar 02, 08:45:00 PM GMT-3:30  
Blogger Wisewebwoman said...

Yes, I hear you but I was talking of a time when women never ever made decisions about anything for the simple fact their lives were controlled by others. And also their bodies.

I appreciate the flow of my life, as you know, and my acceptance of it. But there is no harm in what iffing now and again, surely?


Sat Mar 02, 11:47:00 PM GMT-3:30  
Blogger Wisewebwoman said...


I so agree with you. It is the waste of it all.


Sat Mar 02, 11:47:00 PM GMT-3:30  
Blogger Wisewebwoman said...


One word answer:


It takes a lot of time to become a full fledged alcoholic. And run a business and single parent 2 kids.

But it sedated. And, IMHO, prevented suicide.


Sat Mar 02, 11:49:00 PM GMT-3:30  
Blogger Wisewebwoman said...


My BFF and I planned to escape repressive Ireland if we didn't find men to marry us - another form of escape.

We married. Hers took. Mine didn't.


There were no others. Back then.


Sat Mar 02, 11:50:00 PM GMT-3:30  
Blogger Wisewebwoman said...


They did what they could for the time that was in it. You have no idea of the power of the Catholic Church in Ireland then (and still today). They ran the governments, the schools and the hospitals. And kept women breeding and impoverished.

I hoped I raised my children differently and allowed them choices. No matter what.


Sat Mar 02, 11:53:00 PM GMT-3:30  
Anonymous R J Adams said...

"What if's" can produce wondrous pondering. After all, is not life a long succession of crossroads? We take one course, but in years to come may dwell fondly on the "might-have-beens" had other roads been traveled. We also tend to lay blame on parents too keen to plan our course for us, but are they not doing what they believe to be right at the time?
Mind, I was a wayward child of weak parents and took my own course from an early age. The result was a plethora of disasters, brushes with the law, and eventually four broken marriages. (Thankfully, the fifth remains intact!) I sometimes wonder how I may have turned out had I listened a little more carefully to the advice of my, often distraught, mother.
As for you becoming a successful writer - you've achieved it. Had you done so fifty (or so) years ago the wonder of writing may well have palled by now. Think how empty life would now be were that the case.

Sun Mar 03, 12:47:00 AM GMT-3:30  
Blogger Wisewebwoman said...


I hope my readers have not misunderstood me!! No regrets. Everything is as it should be.

Merely a reflection on what might have been inspired by Shirley's writing.


Sun Mar 03, 01:13:00 AM GMT-3:30  
Anonymous Grannymar said...

In our young lives we didn't have the opportunity or time to be indecisive, the hours were filled for us with household chores. I watched a programme in the last couple of months called Mormons at Duck Beach - talk about being brainwashed? when will it ever end?

Sun Mar 03, 06:17:00 AM GMT-3:30  
Blogger Wisewebwoman said...

We didn't have time to think, GM, and all decisions were made for us.

I don't know how our mothers and fathers did it, always dreading the advent of another mouth to feed. Thank you RC.


Tue Mar 05, 10:20:00 PM GMT-3:30  

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