The title of today's post is from Jonathan Franzen's book of the same title, which I finished earlier tonight. Franzen's book explores the ordinary lives of suburbanites who, once free from various things that are holding them down--parent child relationships, marriage vows, social convention, etc.--find generally find themselves no more happy than they were before. The book is full of settling on half-fulfilled expectations, largely as a result of how overgrown the expectations are.
I'd like to compare this to a Psalm 139 from today's readings. It isn't that long, but I don't want to take up the space here. So click here and come back. How do these phrases strike the modern reader?
You hem me in—behind and before;Not necessarily good, right? Kind of suffocating. For me, that has always been at least a second response to these verses. Of course they are written as comfort. I suspect that many people would read this Psalm exclusively in terms of comfort.
you have laid your hand upon me.
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
All the days ordained for me
were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
On the third hand, I am not sure that the human race has completely adapted to its freedom. Many of us want freedom as individuals, but maybe we don't have the tools yet to cope with it. And that seems to be the point of Franzen's book. Of course, that doesn't mean that the freedom is bad; it just means that perhaps more evolution is required.