I came across an interesting quote, and I found that I could apply it to my life in some ways and made me think ‘deeply’.
“If Jane Austen suffered in any way from her circumstances it was in the narrowness of life that was imposed upon her. It was impossible for a woman to go about alone. She never travelled; she never drove through London in an omnibus or had luncheon in a shop by herself. But perhaps it was the nature of Jane Austen not to want what she had not. Her gift and circumstances matched each other completely. But I doubt whether that was true of Charlotte Bronte, I said, opening Jane Eyre and laying it beside Pride and Prejudice… And I read how Jane Eyre used to go up on to the roof when Mrs. Fairfax was making jellies and looked over the fields at the distant view. And then she longed-and it was for this that they blamed her-that “then I longed for a power of vision which might overpass that limit; which might reach the busy world, towns, regions full of life I had heard of but never seen: that then I desired more of practical experience than I possessed…”
A Room of One’s Own by Virgina Woolf (page 68).
I read this while doing research for a paper about an Austen novel and Mary Wollstonecraft’s a Vindication of the Right of Woman. But I thought about this applies to more than writing novels and literature.
When you think about it, we are all sometimes content with life as we know it. The cliche idea that you don’t know what you have til it’s gone, doesn’t really work in my mind anymore. It’s not that you didn’t know what you had, it’s that you are comfortable with what you have and losing that thing puts you in the unknown. Does that make any sense at all? It makes sense in my mind, but I may not be using the right words to express it.
The little exert lays out a philosophy for two types of people. There’s the Jane Austen’s who make the best out of the current situation and do not want what is beyond reach or reason. Then there’s the Charlotte Bronte’s whose mind dwells on what else there could be or what lies beyond their reach and long for it. I also think these could be stages in life. I was content with life a feel months ago. But now I want to push myself and go beyond what I already have.
I guess that I would be a Bronte. I have always had those dreamy ideals that are beyond reach. But that isn’t fair to say exactly. Charlotte Bronte lived from 1816 to 1855. In her age, women could not own property, attend schools/colleges, publish anonymously, and were confined to the domestic drawing rooms.
When I compare my situation to Bronte, Austen, Wollstonecraft, or any other women writer that I am really familiar with, I feel a great deal lazy. I have the right to do more in my lifetime than they could dream about. Yes, women still have lots of inequality in the workplace and women writers are still branded as sentimental or insignificant, but I could travel anywhere I want and do anything I want.
To be fair, I have been to Dublin and Berlin but only for a week at a time. Not to undermine the things I’ve done in life, but I’m 26 now, and I have not achieved very much. I have my bachelors degree and in the process of completely my Masters degree. But I’ve never stepped out of my comfort zone, I’ve never lived outside of Chicago and the Chicago suburbs.
I haven’t even done anything incredibly daring. I guess this explains my month long stay in Ireland that is forthcoming this year. I will be living and working in a culture outside of my own. I will be completely alone for the 12 or 15 hour flights there and back. I will be alone for the three buses I need to take to get to Valentia Island, where I’ll be staying.
Some part of me thinks that I may never want to come back. After a week in Dublin, I remember kicking my feet at the airport and not wanting to leave. My ex boyfriend may have even pushed me into the airport a little bit.
So what will stop me from coming back in June? I have no clue. I might need to make a list or it will be really easy to stay there. Here’s a list in progress.
2) Finish your damn Masters degree
3) your vast book shelf is in Chicago
5) the rest of your shoe collection?
Well it’s a start. I left friends off that list since a lot of them have let me down in the past month, either by ignoring me or lying and avoiding me. It was nice when I had lots of friends, or when I had a group of guys that I called my extended brothers. But I guess that doesn’t stay the same when you get older. You lose that when everyone is dating, having kids, or doing their own thing. Oh well. I don’t mean to sound pessimistic, cause I do still have those great friends who’d be mad if I didn’t come back. I know who they are, and they know who they are. The people I’m mad at wouldn’t read this anyways.
But in the long run, I think I’m getting my priorities straight. Living in Ireland was a dream I had for a long time. A month stay will either have me running back after my Masters is done, and be a great memory that I’ll hold on to forever. Now I just gotta figure out how to pack for a month of living abroad!