I am reading Girl, Interrupted
at the suggestion of a friend who like me had seen the movie first. I have also read The Bell Jar
and Prozac Nation
with the same interest. While I am sure that the true story accounts of women who have been put away in loony bins or put on drugs lack the whole story, from what they describe, being locked up doesn't seem all that bad. I think anyone with even a mildly clear mind who is locked away under the assumption that it's for their own good become aware over time that by comparison to living in the real world, being crazy isn't all that bad
. The same might be said by prisoners.
It is not that I agree, and in fact I am upset that such a world view could become popular opinion, but I won't pretend that the scenarios presented in these accounts haven't been, to a degree, appealing to me. Of course, that's with the assumption that I have a lot in my own life to escape from.
In a sense, an asylum can be a sort of asylum in the positive sense, depending on what it is you need to have removed from your life in order to attain a state of suspension in which it is assumed you are to get better. I look at my interest to attend L'Abri for a few weeks this fall in much the same way. To be able to, and then to willfully choose to remove myself from the normal world (even for just 2 weeks) seems like the sort of choice we need to make more often. Vacations don't always attain this, since it's usually other people, not the world, that becomes the focus, so it's not always a rest. I don't know about you, but I cannot seem to legitimize taking time off work unless I am doing something else, meaning that I have plans which are often just as harried and hectic, if not more so, than my regular life. But for L'Abri I am making the choice to do nothing, or a little more than nothing. Since the term there is 3 months and even though I will only be there for a few weeks studying pretty much what I decide, I won't be expected to do much outside of typical chores allotted to all students and individual study.
When I explain to people about L'Abri, their only desire for me is that I could go for a longer period. While I would love to go a whole term, it is not financially feasible. And like those who may not choose to be put away, I don't want to spend so much time away from the real world that I have a hard time readjusting to it when it is time to return.
Our world is shrinking, our space falling in on us at times. Our time is burned up, and not just linear time, not just the time of years and birthdays. Everyday time. Time to ourselves, time to decompress, time to not have to be anywhere or do anything. Anyone who tells me that I am a member of a slacker generation can go fuck themselves. And what's funny is that it's been going on longer than we realize. Girl, Interrupted was written from the 60's and 70's, The Bell Jar even further back. Are these women the norm? No. But I'm getting the impression that we can relate to them almost too much, that they are not as eccentric and crazed as they once seemed.
So instead of waiting to get a therapist, instead of waiting for one stupid thing I do to warrant an overzealous outreach in an effort to heal me of my often burdensome thoughts, I'm going to L'Abri. I'm buying the air fare and paying for my room and board while I'm there. I'm giving up a week's pay. Just so that I can sit in a quiet library with a wood burning stove and read, just so I can sit around a table with other people and share meals with them, so I can share a room with 6 other women for two weeks. So the world can slow down for once.