This is on a sweet little button badge my Littlun and Son-in-Law to be gave me recently. It is very appropriate for me, I must admit, as books have always been a big part of my life. And when physically and/or mentally unable to do anything else I can devour them at the rate of a paperback a day.
Is it a thing that makes me happy? In recent months, they have been more of a comfort, I think. But generally books inspire all kinds of different emotions in me. They’ve made me laugh out loud, cry, fume, get all het up and agitated as the story hits critical, dramatic places; I have argued at them, told the authors to fuck off when I have disagreed with them, nodded sagely at wisdom I have agreed with, and I have taken the piss. Only one book made me fall asleep. Mansfield Park by Jane Austin. Sorry, but it did. Every time I tried to read it……………zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.
I’m not a book snob, though after getting to the age I am, I do know what I like and what I don’t. But I will confess to enjoying a fair amount of what is classed as ‘young adult’ fiction in recent years. Partly because a lot of the usual ‘grown up’ stuff…………..it gets very samey.
Plus young adult fiction has lots of vampires and dragons and zombies and magic and all the sort of things I have always enjoyed reading….in a non-heavy format. If I want heavy, I know which authors to go to. But there is nowt wrong with reading what you like.
I picked up a book a few weeks ago that seemed…unusual. I like unusual. And I started to read it 3 times, then put it down and went on to something else, which is very unlike me. Until I had nothing else to read…..*nee noo nee noo*…..so I HAD to read it or let too many unwanted thoughts infiltrate my brain. And I found it very *odd* (which is a sideways step from unusual). I wasn’t sure I liked it, or even wanted to continue with it. But I couldn’t *not* read it. There was just…something…about that lead character……
Female, early 30’s, rich boyfriend, childless…………..typical female lead character in many books by female authors.
But this book had taken me well over a week to read at this point, from starting it seriously. Again most unusual for me. And it was only when I was thinking about what I had been reading….in a very absent minded grass-hoppery sort of way earlier today (well, yesterday) that I realised why I had felt so put off but at the same time so compelled. That lead character and I share a few character traits. Or should I say….flaws. And it really is the most peculiar feeling to see some of your own deepest flaws and failings played out across the page. No wonder I hadn’t been comfortable reading it!
I had no obvious ways of relating to her, apart from both of us being female, and I was once in my early 30’s. But I could very much identify with her flaws that had screwed up her life. And the way she…………quested………..waited……….for something she thought was one thing but in reality turned out to be something else (doesn’t it always?).
Real life, of course, isn’t as straightforward as that. There isn’t always the happy ending that this character got. It was a very cliched happy ending, it has to be said. BUT, the weird thing is…………she had to do what I have been doing………….going back.
Different, but the same.
It’s as though when we go through crappy situations – or even through changes in situation – and certainly when we go through depression – we lose sight of bits of ourselves. Almost as if they drop off along the way, or get put in a drawer at the back of our mind and get forgotten about.
And in their place sits ugliness like shame and fear and guilt and lack of hope and regret and loss and………….all those hideous things that fill us up and take us over when depression fills us and takes over our lives. When our brain chemicals are out of balance, when everything becomes too much, when we’ve coped for too long…..there are many routes but the result is the same. We crash, we implode, we fall into the abyss.
I’ve talked before about the spirally nature of things, of how things in my life keep cropping up for me. And last night I found myself trying to explain something. It came about via an *odd* route, and I was also trying to explain that, plus how I felt. And it was all quite difficult via the written word. But I did my best. And within this jumble I explained how I had actually done the very same thing myself, this thing that I was trying to explain……..and therefore I understood it.
It was only many hours later, as I was again thinking in an abstract, grass-hoppery sort of way that a very loud penny dropped. The thing I was trying to explain was a kind of theory – a “what if” sort of thing – and I was explaining that essentially, it didn’t matter – it was forgiveable, basically. The loud penny that dropped was the realisation that within that statement – I had also forgiven myself for what I had done so very many years ago.
It’s as if the world has just gone silent around me. Ever had that feeling before?
Spookily enough – in the final chapters of that book, that I just finished reading before I came to blog – the leading character also forgives herself. Hers was for perceived blame. Mine was actual. No doubts about that.
Mine was a boot on the other foot situation I had been describing. Hers was nothing of the sort. But I have found the whole reading of this book and the last 48 hours of my personal life to be slightly twilight zone-ish, it has to be said.
There were also 2 interesting quotes in that book. One was that the only real choice you have to make in life is to be happy. Have a think on that one, coz I plan to come back to it.
And the other is that it is too easy to waste our lives on things and people that don’t give us what we need, when what we should be doing is spending our time doing things we love with people that make us happy.
That’s a tricky one, isn’t it? Because not everyone loves the work they do, for instance…………..but then who said life was perfect? You cannot expect perfection………..says this closet perfectionist through gritted teeth. BUT………where it IS *possible*……….shouldn’t we at least try to make that happen? Even if it takes tiny baby steps towards it at first? Shouldn’t we at least try?
Because…………sometimes……….you really do have to go back…..before you can go forwards.