Monday, February 15, 2010

Loving Monday: My Messy Life

Messy End Table

I have to be candid: this set of chapters in Loving Monday didn't really work for me.

Maybe it was the written structure— every chapter neatly leading into the next, with obvious signposts. Or maybe the structure was supporting a dynamic that was the real source of my discomfort...

it felt like Beckett's life was too neat— not without trouble mind you, but still too neat.

Why should this bother me? Isn't it possible that his path was indeed that directed, that overseen?

Well, yes. It is possible.

The problem is I have a tendency to want to describe life this way, in my own messy life. And it feels too simple. As a writer, I've especially struggled not to give in to the "happy ending" syndrome, even while it's true that there have been some unarguable happy endings in my experience.

Perhaps it's a matter of what's in vogue. But I wanted to see the "messy" in Beckett, in a way that connected to the messy in me.

Messy End Table photo, by L.L. Barkat.

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Anonymous Tanya Dennis said...

I like non-endings where the book cuts off obviously before the story ends. Not that I want a lack of closure, but I want to imagine for myself what happens next. The whole "happy ending" too often seems trite and contrived. Real life has no real endings ... just a series of re-beginnings.

8:30 AM  
Blogger Kelly Langner Sauer said...

I hate reading my old journals. I felt that I had to conclude the rest of my life by the end of each entry. My conclusions were so trite. Living in suffering opened my heart to the possibility of more than the defined "happy ending" I wanted to give it. (I treated it in a couple of posts at my blog a few years ago.) I love your candor.

8:52 AM  
Blogger Megan Willome said...

I like mess. The Bible is a messy book, if there ever was one -- probably why I love it.

9:20 AM  
Blogger Monica Sharman said...

Yeah, I wasn't crazy about those obvious signposts, either. (Whenever I hit one of those, I felt an "Oh, puh-LEEEEZ!" coming on.)
But in this community, even formulaic books are fun to discuss with one another!

My husband can't stand Charles Dickens because everything is so perfectly worked out---absolutely no loose ends at the end, and everything has a connection. He liked 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea---lots of things left without explanation at the end of the book.

As for the messes---well, you know how I loved Stone Crossings. :)

11:18 AM  
Anonymous Ann Kroeker said...

If "messy" is so valued (including end tables, countertops, ledges, and the top of the dog crate), my whole life may take on new meaning!

Should I stop decluttering my closet?

11:18 AM  
Blogger Sam Van Eman said...

Listen. All you need to do is name it and then claim it. And, voila, no more mess!

12:21 PM  
Anonymous Lyla Lindquist said...

I chalk the neatness of his story up to the number of years that have passed since then and he's flattening it a bit.

But I also have to say "dang, things sure do seem to work out for him." Crisis after crisis, and he comes out unscathed. I suspect that there's far more to the stories than made it to the page.

I keep going back to the crises -- trying out some alternate endings in my head and how he might have responded to them.

12:30 PM  
Blogger SUNRISE SISTER said...

I'm not reading along with the book but your post and your commenters seem to bring the content alive and it's enough for me now to be on the edge of the story rather than totally engaged.

1:06 PM  
Blogger Dan King said...

This is a great point LL! I've read recently in a book about ministry that people connect more to our pain (and messes) than they do with our successes.

I'm not reading the book, but I can totally understand where you are coming from. I agree with Megan on this is one of the reasons that we like the Bible so much... it is full of imperfect people just working out their faith, and it is not always a happy ending...

1:45 PM  
Blogger Billy Coffey said...

I write my share of neat endings, but I really, really like the messy ones. Unfortunately, those are the ones that seem more me. Or should that be unfortunately?

4:18 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

I'm with you on this one. I'm having a little trouble biting into this book so far due to the way Beckett seems to gloss over the hard stuff. I think Lyla makes a good point about the number of years passed and the "flattening out". Maybe that's it. But I miss the between the lines. I'm guessing there was a lot of messiness involved in the between the lines parts of the story.

5:11 PM  
OpenID shrinkthecamel said...

Okay, I'm glad someone came out and said it. This is the problem I have with a good number of Christian book. Too formulaic, predictable and scripted. Give me an original mess, any day.

Thanks, Laura

8:57 PM  
Blogger kirsten michelle said...

Oh, the glorious mess. I like to wrap things up neatly, too. I like to come to peace and make sense of things. Even when there is no peace or sense to be found.

There is a kind of freedom in acknowledging the mess, I think

11:40 AM  
OpenID cindyhan111 said...

the only messes here are hidden under beds and behind closed doors! : )

poetry tomorrow? I haven't been around that gig for a little while!!! -and, been enjoying both of your books!! peace and care~

3:34 PM  

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