I cannot write fiction; at least I haven’t matured enough to write something fictional. Rather, I write as a response to a scene I see at a stoplight and as a response to pretty much anything. My writing is not elaborate, does not have fancy words. I don’t write with a voice of grandeur but with the same eloquence I have on any of my conversations with someone else; because my written response is the same as the oral response I would give in any conversation, it has simply been transfered from sound to ink on paper.
While I’ve been at home for Christmas, I’ve read three books and I’m making progress on a fourth one. The first two were novels, one of them I have alreay blogged about. The second novel, Gilead, was essentially a long letter from an old congregationalist pastor to his son. In Gilead, John Ames reflects upon his ways in life and writes about how his sermon and prayers formed. The third book, however, was a book about prayer. Hence, prayer was the one that the three books had in common. Although one of the books was written by a secular aughtor, the other by a christian author, and the third by a pastor, the books were linked by the individual’s thoughts on spiritual practices. Now, the book that I’m currently making progress on is a book about writing; but it sometimes adresses writing as a form of conversation. After a semester of reading literature and writing about it, I’ve learned that I have a spiritual relationship with writing. When I was in middle school and high school, the only reason why I wrote was to pray. I found that the only way I could remain focused during prayer was if I wrote out my conversations with God. After writing a longer paper about my relationship with Jeremiah -which can also be read as a paper about my personal relationship with God -it struck me that Jeremiah was not only a favorite book but a living character in my life. Therefore, after writing the first five pages of the paper, I read it to myself, erased, and re-wrote the paper as a letter and a conversation; in the first part of the paper, always adressing Jeremiah in the second person, and in the last portion, re-creating the voice of Jeremiah.
After reading Eat, Pray, Love and Gilead, I’ve learned why writing is one of the things I cannot imagine living without. I can’t bear the thought of having no hands because I wouldn’t be able to make art, I wouldn’t be able to write; and if I can’t write, then how will I pray? I’ve learned that writing is an, if not the most, intimate form of prayer.
“For me writing has always felt like praying, even when I wasn’t writing prayer, as I was often enough” –Gilead
“When the crying doesn’t stop, I go get myself a notebook and a pen (last refuge of a scoundrel) and I sit once more beside the toilet. I open to a blank page and scrawl my now-familiar plea of desperation… Then a long exhale of relief comes as, in my own handwriting, my own constant friend… commences loyally to my own rescue” -Eat, Pray, Love
“The greatest stories touch on the sacred, that moment when head and heart and soul combine” -Take Joy
“As a reader I read stories that developed me. As a writer I write to discover what I am thinking and feeling” -Take Joy
Having heard that the movie had become one of my favorites, my friend Caroline recommended the book to me. I was skeptical about the novel at first, since I did not want to hear a woman talk about her life for 300 pages. However, my feelings changed as soon as I began reading, for the novel is actually a neverending chain of thoughts. The novel moves from one experience to the next, always depicting them with minute details. Within each paragraph, there’s not only great description, but also really long tangents that allow you to get a better understanding of the author’s feelings and thoughts.
The book and the novel differ greatly. The novel is a chronological mess, while the movie, although chronologically faulty, provides a better timeline for the audience. Nonetheless, both works of art (the novel and the movie) successfully link you to the main character. She is easy to identify with, especially since the novel is actually a spiritual tale, or the tale of a spiritual journey. Maybe it’s hard to understand why I would relate to a book that talks about “Hinduism and meditation”, when I believe in “Christianity”; the truth is that most of us have gone on spiritual journeys of some sort. Usually, although the subject we search for varies, the process of transformation remains invariable. One of the things that Liz Gilbert makes an emphasis on is our human need to look for comfort in something greater when we’ve gone through a painful situation. In the author’s case, there was not one painful situation, but a combination of many catastrophes. Her book, although never explicitely says it, presents the idea of hitting rock bottom; many of us have been there, and it is when we see no man-workable solution that we seek for divine guidance. The journey that the novel depicts, takes us from suffering, and a search for hope and love, to lessons on how to enjoy life at its fullest -keeping a balance on how to please oneself, while also seeking the best for those around us.
There are many ways in which I identified with this book. For instance, the author talks about crying on bathroom floors; I must confess, I’ve done the same and still do it when life makes wrong turns. The author talks about the importance of writing in her search for God; my most intimate moments of prayer have happened through writing. She talks about her love for food; can’t judge her! All I do when I come back home is munch on anything that looks edible. The book talks about our longing as human beings, and her personal story is a reminder that we are all joined our by spiritual searches.
I’m glad Caroline told me about this book. I can see how she could have related to it; and I can also see that just as our kinship with the novel is based on a search, our friendship has also sprouted from long, vulnerable talks about our spiritual journeys. This was a book definitely worth reading.
*While reading the novel, these were some quotes I found memorable; sometimes even funny. Some of the things the author says are things that I can relate to, for I have heard the same thoughts wandering through my mind before.
“‘Do you have friends in Rome?’ and I would just shake my head no, thinking to myself, But I will. Mostly, you meet your friends when traveling by accident, like by sitting next to them on a train, or in a restaurant, or in a holding cell” (42)
“And here recommences my strangest and most secret conversation. Here in this most private notebook, is where I talk to myself. I talk to that same voice I met that night on my bathroom floor when I first prayed to God in tears for help” (53)
“You were given life; it is your duty (and also your entitlement as a human being) to find something beautiful within life, no matter how slight” (115)
“There’s a reason they call God a presence –because God is right here, right now. In the present is the only place to find Him, and now is the only time” (132)
“I wake up crying and shaking. I don’t want to disturb my roommates, so I go hide in the bathroom. The bathroom, always the bathroom!… Oh, cold world -I have grown so weary of you and all your horrible bathrooms” (147)
“I liked having him nearby, opening doors for me, complementing me, calling me ‘darling.’ Then again, I noticed that he called everyone ‘darling’ -even the hairy male bartender. Still, the attention was nice…” (267)
Recently, I’ve been watching a lot of videos because my time is no longer consumed by finals and art projects. This week, these have been the best videos I’ve watched:
An inspiring reminder
Something musically funny
Best song of 2011
A reality, where there’s beauty and improvement
One of the most amazing job: Steve Mccurry
With so many papers and proyects that are due during final’s week, I haven’t had time to blog. However, on one of my “final’s work” break, I decided to amuse myself with some music and turned to Simon and Garfunkel. While “youtuebing” for one of their videos of “Mrs. Robinson,” I came across this cover of the song by Pomplamoose. Although, I am a fan of the original version, I find her voice very compelling, although not as “chimey” as the sound of the original duo. However, the song is good, so I’ve decided to share it with y’all:
*Yes, after so much writing, there is a need to make up words.