Today, as I finished Sylvia Plath’s semi-autobiographical novel, The Bell Jar, and looked up more of her works online, I came across this quote from her journals:
“I want to taste and glory in each day, and never be afraid to experience pain; and never shut myself up in a numb core of nonfeeling, or stop questioning and criticizing life and take the easy way out. To learn and think: to think and live; to live and learn: this always, with new insight, new understanding, and new love.”
I stopped everything I was doing for a while and just looked at the quote. Someone who put her head in a gas oven has written this beautiful rendition of life. Perhaps, that’s why we read. So that we know that someone out there has already voiced the words that fear kept hidden inside of us. Did she take the easy way out? Did she finally end her life because she lost the taste of ‘glory in each day?’. Did she finally realize that you will reach a point where you are afraid to experience more pain? No one knows for sure. No one would probably know except her, despite extensive biographical research. But these words don’t sit lightly merely because the writer ended her life in a gas oven. They sit even more powerfully as a damning indictment of a life that maybe, just maybe refused itself on a lie. I thought to myself that to wrap myself up “in a numb core of nonfeeling” as I have been doing of late is a violation of life.
One of the perks of having no fixed office hours is that you get run after sunsets. Literally. Every day, as I set out, the sun mocks me by just beginning to set. It’s a distance of a little more than a kilometer before I reach a rutted lane from where I can just watch the sun wave away the day, unobscured. Some days, I can’t make it as the sun wins the race. Some days, I win the race. Those days I pause a while, just a few seconds and watch. For those odd seconds, my mind is at peace. It’s not nonfeeling. It’s the opposite of it. You know then the only difference between the sunset and the sunrise is time. Between the surrender to darkness and the surrender to light, there exists only time. Then, I would lose myself of the numb core of nonfeeling and see afresh the bitter carcass of the past. To step over it and just see that I can learn and think and live and learn and think and live with new understanding. Of myself to myself. Burn burn burn. Like a thousand candles into the flame of the night.