Monday, February 27, 2012

More Conscious of Time

At The High Calling, we’re finishing up the last chapter and epilogue of The Social Animal: The Hidden Sources of Love, Character, and Achievement by David Brooks. And now I’m considering the story of Harold and Erica at the end of their lives, and what does that mean.

I’ve discovered I’m becoming more conscious of time, and its passing.

It’s not moving any faster than it ever did, of course; I’m simply becoming more aware of it. And it’s in the little things, like it takes five and a half minutes to unload the dishwasher.

I know this has to do with age. Chronologically, time is catching up with me. And I’m trying to stare it down.

I’m doing things at 60 that would seem more natural at 25 or 35.

I published a novel after I turned 60. I’m working on the sequel. Depending upon how the sequel does commercially, a series lies behind it. Another novel, completely different, has almost 70,000 words completed, with another novel idea rolling around in my head. And this novella thing I’ve been working on, all because I heard a piece of music. I’m experiencing a literary flood that’s almost overwhelming, at a time and an age when I thought ideas might be drying up.

My day job involves social media. I was a speechwriter who started with electronic communications in 1993, moved on to the web. And then it was blogs, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and the rest. I am not exactly what most people think of as the correct demographic for social media. As the King of Siam told Anna, “Is a puzzlement,” except that I think what’s different – why I ‘get it” when others my age and younger don’t, is that I bring a lived life to the understanding of communications technology.

I’ve become more aware of the impact of my parents on my life. I spent 18 years under their roof in direct, day-to-day contact, and 42 years later, I can see the influences they had far more clearly than I could years ago. Earlier this month, I spent a long weekend with my mother in New Orleans, and we talked in a way we never really had before. I should say I asked questions and she talked. I wish I had had a tape recorder, but I didn’t anticipate the level of conversation we ended up having. But I did take notes.

It’s no coincidence that I can look at my own two children, my two sons I love so much, and I see my influence.

Part of what Brooks says in The Social Animal is that so much of our lives is actually directed, influenced and shaped by the “dominance of unconscious processes.” It’s likely true, but it’s an incomplete statement.

His perspective is largely biological and sociological; mine is increasingly spiritual. I don’t see unconscious processes directing what I do. Instead, I experience how God has wired me, both collectively as a human being and individually as me, and I’m only gradually becoming aware of the totality of it all.

And it is awesome.

“We are not who we think we are,” Brooks writes.

And he’s right. We aren’t.

Until we understand that we are the children of God.

And then everything changes.

To see more posts on the final chapter and epilogue, please visit The High Calling, where our discussion is hosted by Laura Boggess.


Louise Gallagher said...

What a beautiful post Glynn.

I so appreciate your perspective. -- and no, it's not an age relative thing! :) it's the heart of you that shows me the beauty of my world.

Laura said...

Lovely thoughts, Glynn. These last two chapters evoked a similar response in me. Brooks doesn't overtly mention the spiritual parts of all these ins and outs we read about in Harold and Erica's lives, but I feel a definite underpinnning in his writing. That last scene with Harold was excellent.

Thanks for walking through this one with me. I've enjoyed every one of your posts.

Maureen said...

I've especially enjoyed your approach to discussing this book, which uncovers to us how you find meaning through your reading. Lovely wrap-up.

Anonymous said...

my parents died in 2001.
i have thought of many questions since then that i would like to ask.

i think that it is a gift to gain the spiritual perspective, because it helps put the other perspectives into balance.

David Rupert said... and time. Still amaze me.

Unconscious influence. I love the way you (and the author) frame this. I wish I could see a more direct influence in my boys. I hope that their day will come, when it will all come together.

For me, it's been family, friends and faith

S. Etole said...

As I age, I can see certain family traits become stronger in family members and the influence the older generation had.

diana said...

Thanks for these good thoughts, Glynn. I have really enjoyed reading this book, though I've found it tough to write about it.

I agree with Laura that there are some spiritual underpinnings to the way he has assembled the material - and occasionally, they peek their way out.

Some of the studying and experience I'm gaining through the process of spiritual direction (both as a directee and a director) has helped me to see that it is in the unconscious parts of ourselves where God does the most intimate and life-changing work.

And that's a very good thing to know, especially in light of the truth proclaimed in this assemblage of research tied together through fictional characters. The unconscious self is huge and deep and has indescribable impact upon our conscious living. And it's exactly there where God meets us.