Monday, May 18, 2015

Why Virginia Woolf Walked Away From Life

Virginia Woolf was the product of a broken home, and was raised with her stepfather and several step-siblings. From an early age, she was highly emotional and had trouble coping with the various tragedies that life tossed her way. But Virginia found a way to escape the pain of her mother's untimely death, the tragic shock of her sister's unexpected death and the other sad events that occurred in her life: books. Se was given full access to her father's library, and here she fell in love with the written word. Here, she became Virginia Woolf, the author.

Being Blue

Like lots of authors, Virginia Woolf started publishing her own books. She and her husband purchased a printing press, mostly as a hobby, and pretty soon they turned it into a business. She published several novels using the press.

Virginia Woolf was a prolific writer. She wrote several books in the span of a few short years, and received recognition in her own time as a talented woman of letters.

It sounds like a happy story, doesn't it? Her life was marked by death as a child and young woman, but she discovered a love of words and found her own voice as an adult. She took matters into her own hands, like all the greatest self-published authors, and she made the world notice her. But the story of Virginia Woolf is not a happy one. Like so many others in her family, her story ends in tragedy.


More tragedy came into Virginia's life in the form of World War II. She had just published a book, and it wasn't being received well. She was suffering from writer's block, and having trouble concentrating. then, the Blitz. Germans came to bomb London in one of the most sustained attacks in the history of warfare, and her home was destroyed.

The darkness came back into Virginia Woolf's life, terrible events that she couldn't control and maybe couldn't understand. The ugliness of war is something that no one should really understand.

Virginia Woolf filled her pockets with rocks and walked into the sea. She was 59 years old when she drowned to death. She left a goodbye note to her husband; it was the last thing she ever wrote.

It isn't easy to live through tragedy. It isn't easy to make sense out of death or war or those other terrible things that happen in life. And it isn't easy to constantly put one's heart on the page and send it out in the world, where others sit back and judge it and comment on it and decide what it means to them. It isn't easy to search a soul for truth, write it down, and watch as the world finds fault with it. In the last days of her life, Virginia Woolf said she could not read or write. She lost a connection to the one thing that kept her grounded through all those other tragedies. She lost her best friends, books.

It became much easier to walk into the water than to stay behind on dry land and wait for whatever was going to happen next. Maybe she was tired that day she walked toward the waves, tired of waiting for the next tragedy to strike. Tired of waiting for it to get better. She was sad, surely, and felt disconnected from her words. In her final note, she said it would be better this way. So Virginia Woolf walked away from life, and the whole world became a little darker for it.

Darkness and Light

Darkness is going to come into your life. Writers keep their emotions close to the surface, where they can be accessed. Writers look hard and long at the human condition, maybe harder and longer than others. Writers take all the experiences they have, and they put them on the page so they experience them again and again. There are going to be times when it feels like there is just too much ugliness, too much sadness, too much exhaustion, too much of everything. And maybe it's easier to just walk into the ocean instead.

But it's better if you stay on dry land. Look toward the waves, but don't step into them. Do what Virginia Woolf couldn't do, and wait to see if tomorrow is any better. Who knows? Maybe it will be. At the end of the Blitz that rocked London, the mighty German Air Force was defeated. The Allies came to free Europe, and the war ended. The clouds lifted. The tragedy stopped. But Virginia Woolf was still gone from the world.

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