Spirit and Fire and Dew

“You needn’t get in such a fever over it. Do learn to take things calmly, child.”

For Anne to take things calmly would have been to change her nature. All “spirit and fire and dew,” as she was, the pleasures and pains of life came to her with trebled intensity. Marilla felt this and was vaguely troubled over it, realizing that the ups and downs of existence would probably bear hardly on this impulsive soul and not sufficiently understanding that the equally great capacity for delight might more than compensate. Therefore Marilla conceived it to be her duty to drill Anne into a tranquil uniformity of disposition as impossible and alien to her as to a dancing sunbeam in one of the brook shallows. She did not make much headway, as she sorrowfully admitted to herself. The downfall of some dear hope or plan plunged Anne into “deeps of affliction.” The fulfillment thereof exalted her to dizzy realms of delight. Marilla had almost begun to despair of ever fashioning this waif of the world into her model little girl of demure manners and prim deportment. Neither would she have believed that she really liked Anne much better as she was.

Anne of Green Gables, Chapter 22

L. M. Montgomery

 

It is possible, within one’s own head, to play both Marilla and Anne in the same story. But sometimes trying to pretend to be the sort of person you aren’t can just cause you to just be bad at being the sort of person you are. So the answer, then, lies not in changing our selves, but in learning how to keep stuff from piling up on top of those selves such that they become twisted and obscured until we can’t even recognize them any more.

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