I have this feeling like the decades of my life have roughly corresponded to... paradigmatic modes, I guess. How I regarded the world and myself, how it felt to me, what I was, what I was becoming. I've been expecting my 40s to be something new. And I feel that becoming, in fact now that I am in it I realize that I had predicted it, not in a magical way, but because I recognized something about myself that could logically progress only in a certain way.

To be here looks different from what I saw from the outside looking at other people here. I'm not even sure now that I'm in the same place. Is it all my own, or do others share it with me?

I keep thinking of Adam and Eve and the Garden of Eden and the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Maybe not as a child, but now, as an adult, that is the path that I choose to be on. I don't like it sometimes. But I want to know anyway. Because not knowing, and this is what the story doesn't tell you, not knowing doesn't mean that you don't commit evil. It just means you don't understand it and so cannot challenge it.

When I was a child, opportunities to be unhappy were so much fewer because I was fed and clothed and cared for and had time to myself, and that was a kind of Eden. I didn't know about corruption and greed and the damage it does. I knew about dolls and swings and flowers and rain and tricycles and climbing the monkey bars and my front steps.

Now I am angry and hard a lot of the time. There is, granted, a lot in the world to be angry about. What would happen if I let go of it? I tell myself that I would lose nothing that is valuable, and my anger accomplishes nothing anyway -- no one is going to stop doing bad things just because I am mad about it. It does no good for me to fume about it. And yet it feels wrong for me not to rage against them. But I think maybe this is a lie, so I try and try and for a moment at a time there is no hard heart, there is only the joy of children and the scent of spring blossoms and mown grass, and the landscape on either side of me is transformed into simplicity, is-ness, not just the landscape but the shape of my mind in response to the world. I'm in a dream of loveliness. I remember feeling this way. It was exactly like this. I want to stay there, I don't think I should, that's not what responsibility looks like to me, but I will if I can, and I will my mind to stay there but then someone intentionally cuts me off on the road and it's gone and I am fuming again.

What I think is that I don't belong in this world. Or, rather, I do, but not in this society, this culture. It's ugly to me, and hostile. I retreat. More than that, I quit. I would love to say that. I QUIT! But I can't, not really.

Yesterday I did a lot of things, only a few of which I think were really worthwhile. I loved my daughter, who I have a difficult relationship with because she is my opposite in every way. I watched video game hacks with my sons and understood and shared in their enjoyment of it. I ate chocolate cake with buttercream frosting with my friend, which we made together. I washed and fixed my husband's bed linens and swept his room, as a gift. I drank a half a glass of wine in the afternoon. I obliged my friend her magic in dosing me with Bach flower remedies and the Victorian charm of their claims. (I am Water Violet and Beech. )

I finished Doris Lessing's book The Marriages Between Zones Three, Four, and Five. Now I want to read everything else she's ever written. In thinking of what I would say to people to convey to them that this was an important thing for me to read, something I was already thinking of as having a permanent spot on my bookshelf with only a few dozen other books, I could come up with nothing satisfactory. My inability to explain why this book touched me reminded me of C.S. Lewis's words: "The books or the music in which we thought the beauty was located will betray us if we trust to them; it was not in them, it only came through them, and what came through them was longing. [...] For they are not the thing itself; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never yet visited[...] ."

I thought about writing a letter to Doris Lessing, and about what I would say about who I am that would explain what this book was to me. And that led me to the introspection that I started off this post with.