Monday, April 10, 2006

The Edible Woman

I just finished reading this book by Margaret Atwood and wanted to write something about it, but not quite sure what.

Of course, I enjoyed it as I knew I would. The story focuses on a young woman, Marian, who is "determinedly normal." She's recently graduated from university, is in a job she likes, is going out with a guy that most would consider a great catch and she believes that she's happy. Until her body literally starts rebelling against the path her life is taking.

First, she's signed-up for the mandatory pension plan at her office and that makes her start to think about how much she really likes her job. She'd always assumed that she liked it, but the truth was that it wasn't very challenging work and she had always had one eye on the door, ready to leave as soon as she could be bothered to make the move. Next, she and her boyfriend, Peter, become engaged and again she starts to question her feelings for him. In the course of their dating, she hadn't let herself think too much about where it was all headed. Until, in her mind, it became 'too late' and he proposed marriage to her. Her body starts to revolt by rejecting food. Marian finds herself unable to eat all the things that she once could. Eventually, she finds that can't eat anything at all and that's when she loses it and breaks off her engagement with Peter.

It was an interesting concept to me - the idea of our subconcious and our bodies rejecting decisions that we are making or not making (as in Marian's case). The idea of our bodies rebelling by rejecting food was also fascinating. The Edible Woman made me think about which decisions we make are really ours and which we just fall into because we don't plan or because we are following the 'normal' path in life. A lot of life is like that - you find yourself in certain circumstances, but aren't exactly sure how you got there or that you really wanted to be there, in the first place. People so often end up in jobs, marriages, friendships that they feel ambivalent about. It made me think about how, if we don't actively plan for our lives this is what happens, because not making decisions is still a decision.

A long, rambling post I know!


Everchange said...

Actually, not so long or rambling! It's interesting that a lot times we make decisions just because everyone else expects us to, maybe that's how we end up doing stuff that's not all that fulfilling. For me that's grad school/careers. People thought it was weird that I wanted to take some time off before choosing something. And it's still unnerving to me that I don't know what I want to do with my life.

Ore said...

I know plenty of people who are in their 40s and still don't know what they want to do when 'they grow-up.'

I think that partly speaks to a evolution of our needs. What I wanted at 16 is different from what I want now. There is also this thinking that we have plenty of time to do what we want, but time slips away so quickly. So, we may still be deferring our real desires for a more appropriate time. But, there is hardly such a things as 'the right time.' Often, you just need to take that plunge.

Moving back to Nigeria was one such decision for me. I knew that if I put it off for much longer, I'd get settled in a very different way of life and would never do it.

Pilgrimage to Self said...

Hi Ore,

You blogged once about a book you were reading called 'I know I am in there somewhere by Helene.G' Was it any good or was it a 'heavy' read? I am on the verge of buying it.

Ore said...

Hi Pilgrimage,
No, it wasn't a heavy read at all (if by 'heavy', you mean overly serious and dense with facts). It was obviously well-researched and thought-out, and it really helped me think through things and where I was/still am headed.

There are a lot of exercises or 'innercises' as she calles them. In fact now that you bring it up, I think I need to re-read it. It's a book that you will probably return to time after time.