Spent the evening out yesterday: our book group met at a friend\’s house. Before leaving the house I had to make sure that dogs and husband were fed, and the chickens closed in for the night. I had to make a pile of things to take with me: bottle of wine, books to return, books to lend. I had to think about my clothes. I had to arrange a ride. In my quasi-Cistercian Vermont existence, this is a lot of commotion. But it was wonderful to enter a space other than my own, see faces, hear voices (lots of voices), eat food that someone had deliciously cooked, and talk about half a dozen topics that I normally don\’t ever think about.
The book group comprises only women. When we gather, there is a feeling of expansiveness, of here we are again, just us, and isn\’t it terrific? I think that in contemporary life the book group has come to replace the village well, that pleasant place where women could be sure to meet with other women, and laugh and be themselves, and come away with a jar full of water, and a lightened mood.
Stayed in tonight, and oh, what bliss! Nothing to think ahead about. Just the evening spreading out in front of me like a meadow. Fire in the stove, books if I want them, dogs at my feet. Time to be quiet, to digest last night\’s tumult. There\’s nothing like the contemplative life….
In fact, there\’s nothing like the balanced life, at least for me. I\’m no more a Cistercian than I am a socialite, though I am each by turns. The trick lies in the balance between the two. Too many outings and I become critical, intolerant and disenchanted with humanity. Too much isolation and I turn morose, depleted, and unable to take action.
There\’s a fine line for me between too much staying in and too much going out, too much silence and too much chatter, too many faces and too much solitude. It\’s the eternal Goldilocks dilemma, and it\’s taking me a lifetime to figure out what feels just right. But I\’m getting closer to it all the time.