Finding Hope

I finished a book. (Still Alice by Lisa Genova on Audible)

It’s been awhile since I have and actually could say that truthfully. And it feels so good. I cannot tell you with accuracy how long it’s been since I’ve read a book fully. The last two books I read previously were: The Road by Cormac McCarthy ; and A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini.

The Road I took a year to read. Of course, I stopped for most of the year. I am not that bad. But it was such a dedicately depressing story that moved between depressing, when will this end, and is this the end. The only reason for my return to it was the individual who shared it with me. By the end of this book with its grey landscape, grey air, and grey atmosphere due to the consummation of America by fire and its flesh-eating remnants (a category of which the main characters,  a father and son, are not) I was dismayed at the lack of hope. Truly,  I felt as though I had in a way wasted precious time by returning to the book. ‘In a way’ because I have sincerely never considered reading a waste. Writers may waste their time but readers in my estimation always gain something even through the reading of absolute nonsense.

A Thousand Splendid Suns. I read that as a means of cleansing myself from two things. Firstly, from the dreadful record of taking a year to read one novel. A novel in which everything was quite straightforward: no Shakespearean hoops or anything of the sort. And truly I have to admit that I can actually still visualize a few scenes from the book namely, the beach the father thought would be their salvation, the long road they walked, the man with the cart who they saw die, the basement with goods where they were fortunate to wash and sleep for a few nights. I can remember them. McCarthy’s description and storytelling was undoubtably good. But the story! I live enough depression. There is absolutely no need to eat it willingly. But I did…kind of. And it drained me of my hope.

So I read the first pages of Hosseini’s novel and I smelled the girl’s hope. I smelled youthful happiness and I delved in. Amazingly enough though this second book, which I read in a week due to an excessively busy schedule, ended quite similarly to McCarthy’s.

Several pages to the end where one of the main characters* returns to her home where bombings are an everyday thing, where her family died trying to escape, where she had been enslaved. I stopped reading, closed the book, and thought. In those moments I questioned how having left, how having escaped to freedom, and open happiness could she return to this.

I went over the entire book in my mind: how hard she had tried to leave, how much she and her companions had been through to get out, how much they had paid,  how her main companion had sacrificed her life for their freedom. And finally, somehow an understanding of hope broke through, an understanding that I can explain. But whose path I cannot.  Even as I write this post with the privildge of hindsight the connecting ideas that brought me to this point still elude my worded thinking. Having seen the light, having grasp the distinct strands of hope, I completed the final pages. As the character explained her hope I, too couldn’t help but join her in being joyful even with the knowledge that the bombs were reigning.

I begun A Thousand Splendind Suns to wash the hopelessness from The Road from my mind, my mentality, my emotions. And it did. I compared the two after allowing myself to bath in the truth that even the darkest places have strands of hope in their fabric.

This thought there and then dispelled my previous assessment of The Road. I was able to understand that the father’s death and the erasing of what he considered to be the only hope were not the end of the road. I understood that despite the father and son having never found that door, that light at the end of the tunnel, I understood that the appearance of the family which took charge of the little boy as his father dies was a distinct strand which foretold of future strands.

This stretching of one’s emotional, and mental understanding is the reason I do both activities of reading and writing. It was Maya Angelou’s I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings that brought me a more personal view, and an ability to see persons who exchange sex for money, largely known as prostitutes, as being just like me, and Martin Carter’s poetry which made me step back and reassess politics, and Baldacci,  and Grisham, and Katie Flynn, and Francine Pascal to see other people, and their point-of-views as being valid and worthwhile in addition to glimpsing other worlds and predicaments foreign to my own. Of course, there are many other names because there are many other users of words who share, build, and make known a deeper understanding of people. So as a means of continually growing and experiencing people I read, and as a means of sharing the experience of others,  sharing who they are, their worlds, and predicament, I write.

See you next week Tuesday. I’ll be giving my reason for reading restarting my engine in the reading lane, and my success thus far.

*Unfortunately, I’ve forgotten the names of almost all of the characters I’ve ever read. But I’ll get into that in detail in a later post.

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