I am embarking on a new phase in my life. I am finally sitting down and writing a book. A silly book, I’ll admit. Not the grand, epic, poignant or relevant book I’ve been pushing myself to create, but something easy and romantic and silly. Something I can do without building up the failure in my head only three pages in.
I picked up at book at work this past week called A Walk with Jane Austen: A Journey into Adventure, Love & Faith by Lori Smith. Lori Smith was a 33 year-old woman who was at a crossroads in her life and decided to run to England and search for Jane. This strikes a chord with me. I was 25 the first time I ran away to London. Jane wasn’t on my mind, healing was. I am now 33 (about to be 34) and at a crossroads in my life once again. Anyway, it is a good, easy read where I can see and hear myself in her words.
I just read something that made me want to grab the laptop and share with the world. Lori Smith is talking about Jane Austen’s seemingly little life.
One topic every Austen biographer must address is her quiet, seemingly eventless life, which is how Jane’s brother described it…But what really happened in her life? And so the biographers dig and find love, heartbreak, family conflict, the loss of her beloved childhood home, periods of great financial insecurity, dear friends, and tragic deaths. “Her life was not without event,” they say.
And I think, Of course. How many of our lives would people judge as entirely unremarkable – lives in which perhaps love fails, careers are made or broken, deep friendships and family relationships endure, tragedy is in some form or other inescapable, and the future is murky. These are our realities, and that’s where Jane specialized: the drama of ordinary life, lives not inflated beyond recognition and not with unbelievable goodness or incredible tragedy. Just mothers and fathers, sisters, friends. Pesky neighbors and rich neighbors and neighbors who like you but still want to get the better of you. At times, ridiculous clergy. Good-looking, weak-charactered men; good-hearted plain men; unbelievably rich men with character faults all their own. Fabulous romantic beginnings that may end up being nothing after all. Everyone’s foibles on display, with a bit of grace for nearly every character.
And that is my reassurance for the day. Life hasn’t changed much since Jane’s time. Love is the same no matter what. And I can see my way through this little life just as women before me (including Jane) did.