“There are two kinds of people,” she once decreed to me emphatically. “One kind, you can tell just by looking at them at what point they congealed into their final selves. It might be a very nice self, but you know you can expect no more surprises from it. Whereas, the other kind keep moving, changing. With these people, you can never say, ‘X stops here,’ or, ‘Now I know all there is to know about Y.’ That doesn’t mean they’re unstable. Ah, no, far from it. They are fluid. They keep moving forward and making new trysts with life, and the motion of it keeps them young. In my opinion, they are the only people who are still alive. You must be constantly on your guard, Justin, against congealing. Don’t be lulled by your youth. Though middle age is the traditional danger point, I suspect that many a fourteen-year-old has congealed during the long history of this world. If you ever feel it coming, you must do something quickly. . . .”
Gail Goodwin, The Finishing School
I ran across this quote today from a commentary on 1 Samuel, of all places. Walter Bruegemann used it to warn against the danger of thinking our interpretation of a text is ever complete, so that it can no longer surprise us. But the quote hit me on a foundation level, about my own life.
“You must be constantly on your guard against congealing…If you ever feel it coming, you must do something quickly.”
Hmmm. This gives me a LOT to think about. Have I congealed? Am I no longer evolving or really changing? Do I even want to anymore? And what it the world would it mean to “do something quickly”?
Do you have the same questions?
I don’t have answers, only the willingness to open the door for discussion.