I've been thinking about the word "engagement" in terms of what it means to be engaged in living. I did a dictionary.com search on the word, which led to seven definitions, the first six of which tie in with the expected connotations: war, marriage, short-term employment. But the seventh and final definition gets a little closer to what I have in mind: The condition of being in gear. I picture a car idling at a crossroads, in neutral, while the people inside bite their nails or worry a map between their fingers, trying to decide which way to go. Being engaged in living, it seems to me, means choosing a goal, or even just a direction, and making a move. It means taking risks, going out on a limb. It means being aware that life is short, and it is now.
I'm not saying engagement in living necessarily means strenuous action, or wildness, jumping out of airplanes, taking that new job and moving cross-country, or even picking up the phone, or going out on Saturday night. For many of us, the bravest and riskiest and most appropriate striving might be toward time alone, a much-needed rest. The poet, Audrey Lorde, while battling cancer, called taking care of her body, getting enough rest, "an act of political warfare," which, when you think about it, in our feed-the-corporate-machine work-overtime, get-ahead society, might not be such a stretch. But I digress.
On Wikipedia, I found a word tied to engagement which comes closer to what I'm talking about here: Disambiguation: the process of resolving ambiguity. I like that. I like how that leads me back to the traditional connotations of engagement. Dating is ambiguous. Marriage is not. Talking about combining lives, making babies, and getting married, is not the same thing as being engaged. It is ambiguous. It's sitting at the crossroads in neutral. Maybe the car is coasting ever so slightly, but the foot is poised over the brakes.
J~ "popped the question" Monday night and I felt prickly hot sweat break out on my scalp and lower back. Emotion welled up in my chest - a combination of love and fear and excitement - I didn't know if I wanted to laugh or cry or jump his bones or freeze up into a statue. We're just coming up on six months together, which isn't a long time at all. Our divorces aren't final -- his will be soon but mine won't until November. I'm not sure of my footing yet, in this still-shocking aftermath of A~, and I do fear more pain. There's (almost) every reason to wait. But we're not the idling type. Life is short. This is what we want. I said yes.