Like Meg Ryan’s character in You’ve Got Mail, I’ve never understood the title of Miss Austen’s book, Pride and Prejudice. Likewise, Sense and Sensibility, confuses me. Which is it? And does it matter? Both novels have stood the test of time without a clear distinction, and I don’t think most of us have suffered for not really “knowing” which is which. It’s the power of her storytelling and the complexity of her characters that keeps us coming back again and again to Mr. Darcy, Elizabeth Bennet, Willoughby and the forever beautiful Dashwood sisters.
Jane Austen did not write a novel called Comfort and Comfortability. Smart girl, Jane – because that truly is a terrible title in every way. But I might have read that book with great interest because it seems that – for as long as I can remember – I’ve been searching for comfort. Or is it Comfortablity? Or comfortable shoes? Maybe sensible shoes!? Yikes.
I am (like my mother and her mother) what we used to call “high strung”. For those of you who are neither a) from the Southern U.S. nor b) old enough to remember squealing at the Beatles 1st appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show, let me clarify. Being ‘high strung” is an old-fashioned – and obliquely polite way – to describe one with generalized social anxiety. As I near my 60th birthday, I’m relieved to admit what my family and close friends have known for years. I’m not comfortable in my own skin. I’m claustrophobic. Big parties exhaust me in every way. Technology baffles me – and I mean talking on the phone, texting, this entire blogosphere – all of it intrigues and confuses me. Likely, I struggle with ADD/HD but at this stage of my life, I’m far too busy – or sleepy – to find out.
My sweet husband knows the desire of my heart is to be . . . comfortable. Languid. Relaxed. Calm in my mind, heart, body and soul. Breathe in the salty air, blow out the ocean waves . . . Amen.
Now, of course, I have my moments. Most “high strung” people are competent, affable, talented and delightfully generous members of society. (Not especially modest, though . . .) And yet, there is that longing, that peculiar loneliness that comes from feeling like a fraud in many social situations. Even – and perhaps, especially – with the people I love most. I confess all this only to explain myself and why I’ve chosen to write this blog.
I don’t know about you (though I’d honestly like to) but for me? It started with a sewing machine and a pillowcase and a website I found through a friend on FaceBook. Within a few months, I began to find my Comfort . . . and my Joy.
Wonder what Jane Austen would have written about that?
Mahalo . . . Comfort and Joy, Y’all!