I was more than unusually tired, exhausted, and even the bedtime preparation to finally peel back the covers and ease into bed seemed like too much. At the same time, however, I was agitated.
The day had been full, but not unusually so. I did some light cleaning in the morning before working at my desk for a couple hours. My writing group met in the afternoon, and the conversation and feedback was rich, stimulating, and helpful. Supper was leftovers. Easy. I ironed. Four of Bruce's shirts and three of my blouses. Easy.
We watched the PBS' News Hour, and even started to watch the State of the Union message, but both of us realized we just couldn't do it. We switched to a favorite HGTV show, not even feeling
I then announced I was going to bed, but instead I wandered back up to my garret and did a bit of this and that. I felt the agitation building. I thought about cleaning off the top of my desk or reading emails stacked in my inbox. I thought about sitting with my journal and reflecting on this current agitation. Instead, I unplugged the string of white lights around the window and returned to the first floor.
What I most needed was waiting for me on my bedside table.
O'Pioneers!, Willa Cather's second novel.
Earlier this year I read an article in the current bookWomen by Barbara Courtney who had decided to read each of Cather's twelve novels. That idea resonated with me, and I immediately ordered the first three, Alexander's Bridge, O'Pioneers! and The Song of the Lark, all in lovely Vintage Classics editions.
I read the first novel, but then read three current novels, all important, well-reviewed, highly discussable novels. Loud books, in a way. Books I could say I was glad I had read, but not books that soothed my soul or prepared me for rest.
I'm sure there are lessons to be learned in O'Pioneers! as well, but for a few brief moments I needed the expanse of a prairie setting. I needed landscape to be more important than the rights and wrongs of human actions. I needed the beauty of words more than the way words can prod and push and pull.
That evening, after she had washed the supper
dishes, Alexandra sat down on the kitchen doorstep,
while her mother was mixing the bread. It was a still,
deep-breathing summer night, full of the smell of the
hay-fields. Sounds of laughter and splashing came up
from the pasture, and when the moon rose rapidly
above the the bare rim of the prairie, the pond
glittered like polished metal, and she could see the
flash of white bodies as the boys ran about the edge,
or jumped into the water. Alexandra watched the
shimmering pool dreamily... p. 24
And I turned out the light.
What do you do when you feel agitated? I would love to know.