Friday, July 2, 2010

Day 32: A Stand in for the Soul?

There's an article in this morning's New York Times about the upcoming sale of a hotel on the East End of Long Island. It caught my attention partly because I grew up in a coastal town that was (and is) transformed by tourists each summer, but also because of the article's tag line, which called the hotel, "a place that for many locals has become a stand-in for the soul of this rapidly gentrifying town."

The idea that something could be a stand in for the soul is poignant, and a little scary. I know what the journalist meant to convey--that this hotel represents a way of life that appears to be dying out. But maybe what gives me the shivers is the idea that if the old way dies, the town dies, too. Don't get me wrong: in an architectural sense, this can be true. Looking at my hometown, I doubt a couple like my parents could raise 4 kids on a teacher/lobsterman's salary today. And the giant hotel/restaurant that hosted my senior prom is now a single family home. Things change. But I wonder if maybe we all gravitate towards markers in our personal lives that become "a stand in for our souls," such that if they were lost, we'd feel lost, too?

THAT DOG and I have moved so many times (and had such wildly disparate lifestyles from place to place) that there's not much room for sentimental attachment. But there are other possibilities, things like identity or fashion choices or ways I define who I am. Defending them can feel like I'm fighting to save my soul (like the Jewel song). But maybe I'd do well to open up my imaginations to a broader sense of who I'm created to be?

One of the chapters that didn't survive the edits in my new book includes the story of my seeing a well-known pastor at a conference and thinking snarky thoughts about how he dressed--the Vans, the skinny jeans, the whole "I work at Google" look just seemed like a giant affectation. Then I sensed God saying to me, "Trish, your entire outfit is from Ann Taylor. How is that any different?" Busted. And I'll confess: Were Ann Taylor to disappear, I'd feel like I'd lost a piece of who I am. What's that about?

Are there things in your life that define you? In a good way? Or in a way that would leave you lost if they disappear? Today, let's ask God about them. Maybe there's a bigger version of each of us looking for room to emerge.


larramiefg said...

We're all defined by things, particularly out outward appearance, but I hope that what others first "see" is a good reflection of my behavior and values.

Also you can't always judge a book by its cover.

Sarakastic said...

the fact that you pinned down the "I work at Google" look is why I'm such a faithful reader of yours. I'll definitely think about the stand in for my soul, I'm sure I have one I just can't figure it out right now.

KimberlyH said...

I try not to be defined by things, but I probably define myself by my job more than I would like.