photo by Jonathan Slowman
Lately, I've been focusing on just a few books. For a few months, I was in the middle of several. But I realized that I needed to slow down after I bought a new book (A Rainer Maria Rilke) and felt that I simply couldn't start reading something else. Then another problem arose: I've neglected to read the final chapter of Pride and Prejudice. Not for lack of time, I just don't want to say goodbye to the Bennett family and the complicated courtship of Lizzy Mr. Darcy that evolves from seemingly impossible to beautiful. This in direct contrast to a conversation I had with the writer Robin Black at a reading. She said that people tell her that they aren't interested in short stories because they attached to the characters and the story ends too soon. Her simple answer to this was, "Just read it again." I agreed and now I lie in bed ever night and re-read the chapter before the very end of Pride and Prejudice.
As far as focusing, I've chosen a book my grandfather lended to me. Touch the Earth is an incredibly informative look at the Native American lifestyle through quotes, photographs, and excerpts of memoirs. My grandfather is half Hiawatha and found himself in tears viewing his ancestors culture at the Native American museum in Connecticut. I will surely visit it myself someday. But I digress.
I've found much admiration for the Native American culture through reading this book. They did not chop down trees for firewood, the instead looked for fallen, dead limbs to burn. The believed that they environment could be hurt. The seemingly simpleness of such a lifestyle seemed savage-like to settlers who didn't take the time to try to understand. In ways, I believe that the Natives were quite wise. Sometimes, I think people can become so smart about big things that they can no longer understand the enormity of the humble and simple. The Native American's acknowledged that they didn't own the earth, they didn't make it or control it. They were allowed to live in it from a power outside their own. This perspective reminds me of a time when my mother expressed her fear and reverence for the ocean. She said that it, "allows us to swim in it." It can choose to take your life with a tide, swell, or tidal wave at any moment.
I'll be sure to keep you all posted on the interesting things that I journal about from reading the book. It's very old and a great read if you can find it.