“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well…”
It is when I read this line from Virginia Woolf’s Room Of One’s Own for the first time that I put down this book telling myself that I am not ready for this book. I cannot remember how old I was at that time, but I decided that I needed more time before I could read Woolf and comprehend the brilliance that she is.
The next time I picked up this book, I was in, what I like to call, my ‘revolutionary feminist’ mode (Aren’t all feminists revolutionaries anyway?). During this phase, I wanted to read and know all there is to know about the various waves of feminism and form my own definition of it (at least I knew earlier on that feminism is a brilliant concept that allows for one to have their own definition of it). However, I only got through the first chapter that time. I put it down, telling myself that I still wasn’t prepared to read this book. And no, I hadn’t built it up in my head. I just felt that there is some level of comprehension that I am yet to decipher before I can pick up this book again.
And when I picked up Room Of One’s Own for the third time and read through “…reprehensible poverty of women”, I was hooked. And this book, as many would claim, is a thorough page turner.
But maybe I’ll save my version of feminism for another post. This post is a little different. Come along, won’t you?
This book isn’t the only one I have taken into my hands, read a little and put it down for another time because I felt like I wasn’t ready for it. There have been many. And no, I haven’t abandoned them. I will go back to each one of them and try again, when I feel like I’m ready to do so. As I have, with many books I’ve picked up.
But it’s the feeling of ‘not getting it’ at the time that I have grown to enjoy. It makes me excited that there is something for me to get, more about life to comprehend and so much that is still outside the purview of my current understanding. It amuses me that I am not some grand old woman that has understood everything that there is about this world we live in (And by now if you’re picturing Penny from Big Bang Theory going “not knowing is part of the fun”, you’re with me). Not knowing YET is part of the fun, if you ask me.
This concept of an letting things take their pace and giving eventuality a chance has been quite the difficult path to take for me, personally. I think I only began wrapping my head around it in my early twenties. Being a dancer, ‘nailing it’ was drilled into my head (pun not intended). And growing up as a competitive dancer, figuring a routine out quickly, all at one go, memorizing it, translating it into muscle memory and then performing it to win was the expectation out of me. Eventuality stood no chance in front of my strict mother and my inherent need to push myself to meet her expectations.
What is this intense need for us to finish everything to its completion at the very first go? Isn’t there a beauty to letting yourself figure and taking time to get there? Pick up other (maybe related) experiences along the way and get there when you’re ready? No, it isn’t okay to slack off and not give it your all. But it’s also okay to not force yourself to understand something that clearly needs a little more time to brew before you it’s ready for your consumption.
Don’t get me wrong. I am never going to try to convince you to not persevere. If anything, I will stand at the front of the line and shout slogans about persevering. And giving things time comes more from a place of giving oneself time to grow before taking something out that could actually turn out to be more nuanced.
So yes, I will drop a book, shelf an idea I want to translate into a movement, wait before I test out a pedagogy routine. Only to wait and let myself grow into it and gather a better understanding before I pick it up and look at it with a more nuanced gaze again.