Unstuck in time.

Lately, I’ve been waking from sleep feeling very disoriented. I have to take several beats to remember where I am, what day it is, and—especially—which part of my life I’m currently living. Am I in high school? College? Old age? Am I a world-famous writer yet? Do I have children? And then I remember: I’m thirty years old, happily living in Durham but plotting more world travels; my writing is going splendidly, and I have five or six delicious new projects brewing; I’m trying to decide on an agent, and my whole life seems poised to tip one way or the other.

I told this to my sister Clare. She said, It’s funny how we settle on the “correct” answer. Why do we choose to live linearly? Why don’t we skip around? I like to think that, in those moments of disorientation, I could indeed slip into another phase of my life entirely, and then slip back with certain wisdom, like writing a novel in circles, or painting a picture in spirals.

2 Comments on “Unstuck in time.”

  1. From Shirley Jackson:

    “…how do you know when you wake up in the morning that only eight or so hours have passed since the night before, that the intervening time has been spent in bed, that the affairs you take up so dully in the morning were not laid down centuries before, to wait until you got back to them from somewhere else? In the little minutes of absent-mindedness crossing the street you may without recollection have lived a life somewhere else, you may move back and forth from one of many lives to another, without perception at any time of all the others … To call such a thing imaginary is the reality of one man in one place at one time, and if anyone can be really content with that then perhaps in such a life there are no other places.”

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