Day twenty – the things we treasure. I decided to skip day nineteen because I’m really not into my free writing lately. My head is entirely too clouded for that kind of thing. In the interest of writing about a prized possession, I’m not going to participate in the twist this time. I think overall, people usually don’t read long form pieces and I find when I try and write long form, it seems rushed. So – short form for me.
My most prized possession? That’s a toughie. I usually consider my books my most prized possession, but if I had to nail it down to one item, it would have to be my grandma’s notebook that she recently gave me. My grandma is many things. Among them: a voracious reader, a spirited debater and an all around kind human being. She keeps a notebook with her to write down all her favourite quotes from the books she reads. She recently got a new notebook and gave me her old one. To keep forever. It’s a small glimpse into what my grandmother deems important. Many of them pieces of advice, sad moments from a gloomy tale or funny short sentences that made her giggle. All of them equally important. Here’s a couple of my favorites:
The air was so quiet, he could hear the broken pieces of the sun knocking in the water.
-Flannery O’Connor, The River
Howard thumped the window lightly and then a little harder. He was having an odd parental rush, a blood surge that was also about blood and was presently hunting through Howard’s expansive intelligence to find words that would more effectively express something like don’t walk in front of cars take care and be good and don’t hurt or be hurt and don’t live in a way that makes you feel dead and don’t betray anybody or yourself and take care of what matters and please don’t and please remember and make sure.
-Zadie Smith, On Beauty
He remembered a phrase in Saint Augustine, which had been his only available reading for so long, about the City of God, which he took to be located in the next world: “There our being will have no death, our knowledge no error, our love no mishap.” In that world, if he had understood the saint correctly, suffering would be transfused with moral meaning and converted into joy. In the last hour before dawn he longed to believe this, and he even attempted a prayer, attempted in his mind to knock on the doors of the great silent universe and shout, “Is there anyone there?” Nothing answered him, and as the light of morning slowly flooded his cell, he wondered ruefully why it is those who believe most passionately in a merciful deity who are themselves most murderous and cruel.
-Jill Paton Walsh, Knowledge of Angels
My grandma. The Stephen Harper hating, God questioning, truth revelling woman from a small town in a small place. The questionably honest, hilariously robust woman that raised me to believe – and also know – that reading can bring the most joy in an otherwise dull life. Who leaves me handwritten pages of quotes to remind me of books I’ve long since forgotten. Who brings me stacks of novels every time she comes down to visit us. Oh this is a good story. She’d say with a warm smile on her face. It is this woman, that taught me to believe in whats right, and what’s humble. Whats natural and whats most pure. This is the woman that taught me the importance of not compromising convictions, ideals. Her notebook, used books with spines cracked and pages bent. These are the things that remind me – when I’ve seem to have forgotten – that there are parts of life that are overflowing with beauty. Rich in history. These are the things that remind me that there is good left. Good people. Good storytellers. Good mothers, good fathers. A collection of people doing their best to figure it all out. People yearning to have a voice, and have it be heard. To share in the unique, sometimes soul sucking, experience it is to be human and to live a human life.