Currently Reading: Eden's Outcasts: The Story of Louisa May Alcott and Her Father by John Matteson
Today is one of those days where I desperately want to write but find myself with nothing to say, or at least no way of pinning it down to paper. Impressions and thoughts continuously wing through my mind and collide with each other, while I chase them around, trying to capture them and make them behave. They won't behave today.
Louisa May Alcott is looking up at me as I write this, her gaze full of determination and resolution. Her picture graces the cover of the newest book I'm reading and it is sitting on the floor beside me. She stares me down, trying to communicate with eyes that are piercing and knowing, her chin firmly set. Yet she doesn't look angry. She looks like she just finished laughing and that at any moment, the solid line of her mouth will turn upwards into a grin. I think I would have liked to know her.
I visited my great-aunt at the nursing home yesterday. She is sick and weak but there is nothing wrong with her mind, her memory, or her sense of humor. She had me in stitches more than once last night. Our visit stays with me because last week I read Water for Elephants, a book that I didn't particularly love but contained several scenes that were very powerful and made quite an impression. The intermittent scenes of the narrator as a 93 year old man, stuck inside a nursing home and a wasted body, but with a mind and thoughts as fresh as ever, caused me more heartache than I can even express. Sara Gruen probably never intended her readers to contemplate growing old as a result of reading her novel, but this reader did. I realized that many of the books you find on the bookstore shelf are about the struggles and triumphs of young adulthood or middle-age. Discovering our purpose, finding ourselves, finding true love, or coming to terms with our childhood are some of the major themes of most novels. Not enough books explore how to grow old, the pain and loneliness of it, the contemplation of death, the end of a life. We spend our lives striving for more- more money, more goods, more self-awareness, more happiness. But each of us will one day have to look back, not forward, and reflect on the life we have lived, not the life we want to live. It has given me much to think about this week, especially as I spent time with my beautiful, amazing aunt.
I wish I could stay home and read all day... my whole being wants nothing more than to delve into 1830s Massachusetts with the Alcott family. Fortunately, a long weekend awaits me; I plan on taking advantage of it. Perhaps a Little Women post will be forthcoming.
Amazing to think of what came from that mind.
Until next time...