Wandering with my eyes and heart open, searching for pieces to add to my own personal big picture.

Tag: fiction Page 1 of 6

The Stand by Stephen King: New Read

Seems appropriate, doesn’t it? “The Stand” by Stephen King is a re-read, but I don’t remember any of it other than “virus kills the world” and the feeling of “Wow! That was epic!” I read it back in high school (31 years ago), so don’t hold it against me that I can’t remember the book. Statute of limitations, man!

The Stand

Why didn’t I go get the book when our pandemic started 18 months ago, when someone mentioned that the whole thing seemed like the plot of a Stephen King novel? I guess I had other things to worry about and a long list of other books to read. Besides, I don’t think I really needed the imagination boost at the time.

So why pick it up now? Because the universe has brought it to me in the strangest of ways. A few weeks ago, we were looking for a new show to watch in the evenings and a friend recommended “Yellowstone.” For some reason, we thought it was on Paramount + and started the subscription, found that it wasn’t, but other interesting shows were, so we kept it. Then there was The Stand. I said, “Oh shit! I loved that book in high school. Don’t remember what it was about much other that virus kills the world.” We binged watched it and loved it.

I told my brother about it over the phone, and he said the 90’s one was WAY better, that he hated Whoopi Goldberg, but watched some of it anyway and it sucked. I thought, “If this one sucked and I liked it, I’m going to LOVE the old one!” Crazy thing but, I didn’t. I thought it was terrible. Maybe it’s a case of “the first one version you see of something is the one you love”?

Watching the old version, I thought, “I should read the book and see what’s different.” I ordered “The Stand – The Complete and Uncut Edition” used on Thriftbooks and I dove in as soon as it arrived. I don’t know what it is about Stephen King books, but I completely lose track of time when I’m reading them. The trouble is that I don’t read very fast, more like the pace of reading aloud in my head, and this 1164 page will take me well over 38 hours to read (there goes my book count on Goodreads). I’m a few chapters in and the difference is fascinating.

The first thing I noticed about the ’94 version of the movie, other than the old “made for tv” miniseries feeling, was that everyone in that movie was white. No surprise really because everyone in the book was white (so far). I’ve only gotten into the book as far as I got into the ’94 miniseries, Larry Underwood goes to his mom in New York and Nick Andros is at the jail with the guys that beat him up.

We started talking about this immediately, given the social climate of our own time. The new movie has a “multicultural” cast and not in a bad way. What’s a bad way? When you notice it. You know the difference. There’s a feel you get when the cast is just a little TOO diverse, you know. I can’t put my finger on that just yet.

The talk we had was over why the cast would be so different. I think it has less to do with racism and a lot more to do with marketing. The ’94 version was on live TV at certain time of day. It was made for the widest market at that timeslot, middle class white people watching tv for an hour or so after dinner and before bed. You want to identify with what you’re watching on tv. You want the characters and situations to reflect your version of the world. The producers want you to watch because they get paid by advertisers for your eyeballs. Makes sense.

Today things are different. Anyone of any social class can be watching at any time, so now they want to make shows that reflect a more diverse population so that more of us will watch it. It’s not nefarious, it’s marketing. I found the pronounced difference fascinating.

I don’t know yet which movie version follows the book more closely. So far, they both seem fairly accurate. The Stand was written in 1978 and set in the early 90’s, so the ’94 version may have been more accurate because of that. The 2020 version would have to be made more modern to make it feel like our time and not some past event.

Here’s something crazy I learned while doing a little research about the new movie. The had just finished the major filming in March 2020. Geez! Can you imagine? I just finished making a movie about a manmade virus that escapes and kills the world…switches on the news…oh shit…

Can Tyranny Bring Peace in the Long Run? A Book Review

Some believe that tyranny is the only way to control the darker side of humanity, the long game that will bring peace. “Yes, I killed millions and destroyed worlds, but it had to be done…for the good of the many.” You have to break a few eggs to make an omelet, right? How many times must we hear this?!

Tyranny to peace? Songmaster

“Songmaster” took me about half the book to get into and then it suddenly came flooding in on my heart. Like Ender’s Game, the premise is a complicated one for me to stay with. It just hurts too much and, in my opinion, is just…wrong? Or is it? Is there ever a reason to systematically torture young children in the hopes of weeding out the one that will save us all? Does tyranny of the relatively few make the galaxy a better place in the long run?

At first the story is crazy. A whole planet devoted to developing beautiful singers to entertain a chosen few. They are worshipped like beautiful works of art. But these are human beings. Each of them is taken to the “school” as a toddler and taught in a way that gives them no choice in the matter. Of course, there are some that cannot be taught, but they are pretty much useless in the world and end up serving the school in some capacity for the rest of their lives.

But if we put all that real world stuff aside for a moment, it makes a great story. It’s “the chosen one” theme, right? Like Anakin Skywalker or The Golden Child.

The book got exciting for me when it went in a direction I wasn’t expecting. The political strategy was interesting. Characters were playing the long game, which never works in real life, especially when we’re talking about governing a galaxy. Of course, there’s some crazy violence throughout. The “you have to be a crazy murdering tyrant to bring peace to the galaxy” kind of violence. Darth Vadar thought so too.

As usual, what really got me in the feels was the relationship stuff. The connections between characters, the questioning of moral standards. Homosexuality is not acceptable and acted on violently in this society, but homosexuals are shown in a light love and connection. It broke my heart.

Child molestation comes up and is not condoned or put in a positive light. I felt that was very well done. The school gives a young singer to a master and the child is expected to sing as a beloved slave until they are fifteen years old when they return to the school. The music is beautiful and said to inspire love and passion, bring peace, so you can only imagine the implications.

One of my favorite lines was, “Ansset, your love was never slight. You gave without bar, and received without caution, and just because it brought pain doesn’t mean that it is gone.” Pain comes along with love because the only way to love and be loved is to be vulnerable. We cannot build a tight fortress around our hearts and minds and expect to feel anything.

That’s what the singers are taught to do. The build a high wall of control around their own feelings and cut everyone out. I’m not sure how that makes them better singers, or how it makes their songs change people. Somehow, they are able to use their songs as interpreters of the heart, without opening their own. It doesn’t make sense to me.

There was a much larger story, the one about bringing a real peace to the galaxy, not one controlled by violence and fear through tyranny, but it’s one I’m can barely see the outlines of. I’d have to read it all again and bounce it off someone else that read it to get more. The love story is what caught my attention, and I know that love story mirrors what was happening politically and spiritually, I just can’t quite put my finger on it.

Here’s where I feel like I’m lacking when I read. I’ll write this and then put the book down, keep the basic feeling of the story, letting the details and the broader connection fade in my memory. Once again, I’m left wishing there was someone else that had read this recently and wanted to talk about it.

If you’d like to read my first post about this book, go back to “Songmaster by Orson Scott Card: New Read”

Enchantment: A Book Review From My Past

Brought all the way back from May 31, 2017, I’m posting this old review of Enchantment in anticipation of my next post about another Orson Scott Card book, Songmaster. I found this one while looking for something else and was thrown off for a few minutes. When writing about my current read, I didn’t recall that I had read this. Only because of the post do I remember. It’s frustrating.

Enchantment by Orson Scott Card

Also, I’m a bit unnerved about how much my worldview has changed over the last four years. Life changes us, doesn’t it? Anyway, hope you enjoy this blast from the past. It was a beautiful book, I DO remember that!


I just finished Orson Scott Card’s “Enchantment” this morning, May 31, 2017, and that is exactly how I felt when I closed it, enchanted. I fell in love with this book immediately when I picked it up out of a box of books my friend was giving away. I love it because it blends a bit of history with fantasy, a little time travel, a little magic, and a happy story.

There were so many great pieces of the book, but I don’t really want to get into it because I’ll give away the magic. Here was my favorite quote from reading Enchantment today!

Speaking of the magic of being pregnant, “As he grew, his power was part of me. For those months, I felt like the goddess of creation. And then he was born and became his own man, and I was just myself again.” This touched me because I’m at that point in my life as my sons become men. I’m left alone, being myself. It’s a difficult transition to make, going from creating and nurturing life, through supporting it, and then letting it out into the world to do what God created it to do. It’s good to know I’m not alone in this feeling. It is magical.

I’m not all that fond of the use of Christianity as just another magic in the world, but I’ll let it slide since Enchantment is fiction. I would have liked to see Christianity have a stronger influence, a stronger magic than that of this world the people were using, but I get that it’s not a Christian book per se. I can see some Christian readers not liking it for that reason. But I felt throughout the book that, like in Lewis’ “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe”, there was some deeper magic going on here! Even though it wasn’t explicit, I knew where it was coming from.

This is a spoiler in my book, so gloss over the next paragraph if you think you’ll read Enchantment anytime soon!

The priest uses his Bible and the commandment “In the name of Christ” to stop something bad from happening. Some may think that this is a condemnation of the power of Christ. I do not. I believe it is a condemnation of the power of religion and superstition. The priest did not love others as God does, he lived in the time he was in. He saw people only as they were useful to politics, to keep the church in control. He was from a different land, a missionary to this place. He did not live as one of the people.

Hold on! I just realized something as I was typing this idea out. I’m currently studying at online seminary that talks about this very thing. Their hope is to train up people in Christ among their own people and culture so that they will “bloom where they are planted.” It’s the opposite of the Catholic idea of separating people who are felt called by God to lead, training them in isolation, and then planting them in foreign places where the church thinks they are needed. I honestly think this has more to do with politics than spreading the gospel of Jesus. The idea of Christian Leaders Institute is to share information on the internet for free so that people can be trained in what the Bible says and lead others to Christ where they are. It doesn’t make for a strong central church or any real power, but it does help bring the love of Christ to more people, in my opinion.

Wow. I’m continually amazed at how everything that comes across my path ends up being related and how it leads me to wonder at the power of God. This book is filled with that idea. Who brought these people together? And why? What was the bigger picture? We really don’t know, but we use what have to build where we are. It’s truly wonderful.

Where will I go next? Where will my life, my study, my passions take me? Who will come into my path? Which leads me to what I read in my class this morning. “See the potential in people without pre-qualifying them.” That’s what we are called to do as Christians. Every single person on earth was created and is loved by God. Each one has the potential to do great things. I could have set this book aside because its author is a Mormon, not of my faith, but I didn’t. It, as every other thing, has potential to move my heart toward God and this surely has. Working and living with people is the same. Everyone has potential to do God’s work, whether we see it or not. Mentor them, offer them the love of Christ through you, and watch what God does!

I just read back from the beginning of this post and realized something. He was born and became his own man, I say, the minute he was born, not after her grew up. Our children are born as whole individuals, dependent on another’s support, yes, but fully formed with their own innate potential. We should be treating our children in this same way, as “potential without pre-qualifications”. They don’t need to be filled with certain things by us to become their own person, they are born that way. Ours is to see the potential and mentor it until they can be independent of us.

If you’ve read Enchantment, let me know in the comments. If you haven’t, go get it. You won’t regret it!

Peace in The Motion of the Waves

Peace in the motion of the waves.
Photo by Derek Story on Unsplash

Peace comes and goes, like the waves, I guess. Maybe I’m just watching for stories in the clouds, but it seems that things just come together in impossible ways if you just sit back and wait a bit.

This photo is in honor of my youngest son, whose wave is building up again. May he ride it well, accept the break, and rise again with tide.

So may we all.

“At the first bend he lost sight of the sea with its labouring waves for ever rising, sinking, and vanishing to rise again – the very image of struggling mankind – and faced the immovable forests rooted deep in the soil, soaring towards the sunshine, everlasting in the shadowy might of their tradition, like life itself.”

Lord Jim by Joseph Conrad

Did you find peace in that quote the way I did?

We think mankind is always moving forward, but in reality, over the thousands of years our kind has been on this planet, we rise, sink, vanish, over and over again. Individuals, families, clans, and civilizations, nations all have come and gone, only to build up and rise again. The next time I see the waves, I’ll think of that.

There’s no need to lose our minds over the state of society. We do what we can to enjoy the time we have here, to leave our space a little bit nicer than how we found it, if we can. And then we’re gone.

The only thing that continues is life itself, that immovable forest. People talk about humans destroying the earth, but really, we can only destroy the environment to the extent that we finally go extinct. And if humans are gone, the earth remains, life goes on as it always has since the beginning of time.

No one person’s life is that important in the grand scheme of things. It reminds me where to put my own focus. The place any of us can make the biggest impact is right at home. It starts with our relationship with ourselves, moves into that of our family and friends, and into our co-workers (or in my case, those people I see at the grocery store, or you).

If we all spent our days making our immediate surroundings more pleasant, wouldn’t the whole world be a bit more pleasant? What if we stopped fighting the crashing of our waves on the shore and enjoyed the ride, found peace in the cycle? Life will go on no matter what you choose to do.

If you want to read more posts based on quotes from “Lord Jim”, you’ll find a list of them at the bottom of my first post, “Joseph Conrad is my Next Read: Lord Jim”

Joseph Conrad is my next read: Lord Jim

I read by Joseph Conrad was “Heart of Darkness” in my early 20’s because I heard the movie “Apocalypse Now” was based on it and I’ve always wanted to read the books my favorite movies are based on.

I bought it and I read it but was lost. I didn’t see any similarities. I was too young? Ignorant? Not in the right frame of mind, maybe? Now I know I need to re-read it and watch that movie again. It’s a classic.

My next Joseph Conrad book.

When I saw another Joseph Conrad book in the giveaway pile, I snatched it up. I may not have seen the significance in “Heart of Darkness,” but I was sufficiently enamored by his style to want to read another of his books, even twenty-five years later. A paperback version of “Lord Jim,” with an old “$1.00” sticker on the front cover, is what I hold in my hands.

A side note to people selling used books anywhere: please, please, please, stop putting stickers on the front cover or over the old bar code. You’re ruining the artwork of the cover and making it hard for collectors to scan their books into their library apps.

Do you read the introductions to books? I typically don’t, but I fell into this one completely and I think it helped me get the context and historical importance of the book and author. Joseph Conrad wrote his books in his third language, English. Wow.

I started reading it over the weekend, and I’m about one hundred pages in right now. It took me awhile to focus and understand the language, but I’m loving it. It’s stressful, listening to Jim explain why he left a ship full of immigrants that he believed was going to sink. There you are, sure you are all going to die in a horrible way. Would you remain?

This is why we read fiction, to experience someone else’s reality. It helps us empathize and bond with our fellow humans.

And why is the integrity of a ships captain and crew so important, a sacred duty? Because no one would get on board, put their lives in their hands for several months voyage, if they couldn’t trust them. Since we don’t use ships in this way much these days, it never occurred to me. I suppose a pilot would need the same trust, but I never even thought about that either.

Have you read “Lord Jim” or any other Joseph Conrad book? Was it voluntary or was it assigned at school? Did you love it or hate it? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Want to read more of my thoughts about the book, Lord Jim?
Does Our Conscience or Comrades Guide Our Actions?
Peace in The Motion of the Waves
Lord Jim & This ‘Cancel’ Idea

Classic Crime Drama: Prayer for the Dead

Remember that book I started a few days ago, Prayer for the Dead? It turned out to be a classic crime drama that I couldn’t put down.

A Crime Drama Classic

I wasn’t all that impressed with the first chapters, but as I read on, I started to see its charm. And then it got creepier…and then there I was, yelling at the book, “No! What the hell?” and “Don’t go in there!”

My son came in the room right as I started the last twenty pages, and I was forced to tell him that whatever he had to say at this time would have to wait. I held the book aloft, my thumb in the crack just pages from the end, and pleadingly looked at him. “Just a few more minutes? I can’t stop now.”

He shook his head at me, “Nothing changes around here. Well, except my room.” He laughed and walked into the kitchen to make more coffee. It’s a running joke right now that I took over his room the moment he left for University. In my defense, I warned him what I was planning, and he was all for it when he left.

But that, my dears, is another post. What I’m here to talk about is the draft…no, wait…the book I just finished!

I’d say, “I love it when a plan comes together,” but there was no plan. I’d never heard of the book or the author. I only picked up because the cover and title were appealing. Yes, I judged a book by its cover! And I was not disappointed.

The shy and quiet serial killer with a reason behind his madness, the retired special agent with a checkered past, the bumbling local cops and police chief. All the strings coming together at the end. Perfect.

If you like crime drama tv shows, you’ll love this book. Classic characters and a great story. Go find it at Thriftbooks.com!

Prayer for the Dead – New Fun Read

Prayer for the Dead book cover on an end table.
“Prayer for the Dead” by David Wiltse (1991)

“Prayer for the Dead,” a cheap paperback thriller novel? Really, Michelle?

Yep. And what brought my attention to it? The chilling title and it was free. What can I say? I’m easy.

I’m on page 108 and it’s exactly what I thought it would be. Not a bad book, but it’s fairly predictable so far, like watching a Netflix crime drama. It starts off with creepy suspense, there’s some cat and mouse, some sexual tension and release, and, of course, any leads that they find, no matter how obscure, are exactly what they need to catch the bad guy. That last bit is what makes me roll my eyes. I’ve been on the receiving end of police work like that. It’s a sore spot.

It is entertaining, I’ll say that. And since I’m already reading two informational books that I’m trying to digest slowly, this will help give me a break between the more difficult reads. I don’t have to think much about this book. It’s the one to read for half an hour with my coffee. It’ll wake me up before I get to the meat, an appetizer.

I don’t think there will be many posts about this book in the coming days. I haven’t underlined or starred a single sentence. I have made the occasional comment about its crime drama similarities and the obvious, the good guy shares some of the same mental traps as the bad guy, hints.

I’ll keep reading it though. Maybe there will be a surprising twist to it?

Do you read novels for fun? I usually read horror, like King or Koontz, when I’m in the mood for entertainment. Horror/thriller novels are fun reads, scarier and more suspenseful in print than on the screen almost every time. Have you read Prayer for the Dead or anything else by David Wiltse? I’d never heard of either until I saw it in the free pile. I honestly just loved the cover. It reminded me of Clive Barker’s Books of Blood. Jeez…that reminds me. I read that when I was in high school and it terrified me. I should read it again!

Read my final thoughts on this book at the post, Crime Drama Classic: Prayer for the Dead. Yeah, I liked it.

Does Grendel Represent the Chaos of the Natural World? Part 2 of 2

When last we met, I was spiraling into the depths of a natural world filled with violence and chaos. If you haven’t read it yet, pop back to “Does Grendel Represent the Chaos of the Natural World?” and take a look.

Shall we continue?

“What does a kingdom pretend to do? Save the values of the community – regulate compromise – improve the quality of the commonwealth! In other words, protect the power of the people in power and keep the others down. By common agreement of course, so the fiction goes. And they do that pretty well. We’ll give them that.”

That is exactly what your kingdom, I mean, our nation’s government is doing right now. It’s also very much why I am leaning towards peaceful and non-violent anarchy. Live and let live.

“Rewards to people who fit the System best, you know. King’s immediate thanes, the thanes’ top servants, and so on till you come to the people who don’t fit at all. No problem. Drive them to the darkest corners of the kingdom, starve them, throw them in jail or put them out to war.”

This reminds me of my social media feed and tv news. Comply with what those in power wish or suffer the consequences.

“What is the state in a time of domestic or foreign crisis? What is the state when the chips are down? The answer is obvious and clear! Oh yes! If a few men quit work, the police move in. If the borders are threatened, the army rolls out. Public force is the life and soul of every state: not merely army and police but prisons, judges, tax collectors, every conceivable trick of coercive repression. The state is an organization of violence. Revolution, my dear prince, is not the substitution of immoral for moral, or of illegitimate for legitimate violence; it is simply the pitting of power against power, where the issue is freedom for the winners and enslavement of the rest.”

Public force and coercive repression, the cornerstone of any central government. When you pass a law by vote, you’re asking a separate group of people to use deadly force against those who do not comply. You may think it is best, but when people get held down, beat up, and shot by police for not stopping to receive the punishment for breaking that law, are you ok with that? When the police stop a teenage boy for not wearing a seatbelt, and for whatever reason they feel threatened and shoot him, that is the result of your law. When someone doesn’t pay the appropriate taxes and the government comes and takes everything they have, puts their family on the street, and takes that person to jail, that is a result of your law. When someone buys a drug and sits in their own livingroom alone to use it and relax, and the cops bust in to drag him to a box…I could go on and on but I’m digressing.

Bottom line is that when you vote for a law to be put in the books, you are authorizing violence on another in your name.

“Who says I have to defend myself? I am a machine, like you. Like all of you. Blood-lust and rage are my character. Why does the lion not wisely settle down and be a horse?”

Stop hating! Stop doing drugs! Stop … whatever. Geez! Let people be who they are and choose whether or not you want to associate with them. You know a lion by his look. You allow him to live his own way, in his own space. And you avoid running into him as prey. How about we do the same with other humans?

“Tedium is the worst pain. The mind lays out the world in blocks, and the hushed blood waits for revenge. All order, I’ve come to understand, is theoretical, unreal – a harmless, sensible, smiling mask men slide between the two great, dark realities, the self and the world – two snake-pits.”

I know, it’s all pretty dark and I had a bit of fun wallowing around in it today. I hope I didn’t terrify you. I do get a tad worked up though, especially lately. I’m feeling frustrated and lonely in this world. It seems everyone around me wants so desperately to live inside a fantasy world.

Nature’s reality can be terrifying and cruel, but we humans have a special gift, creativity. We can use it to recognize the world around us and attempt to do better for ourselves, or we can create a little bubble in our minds and live there as long as we can. That is until the bubble is burst and the world’s violence comes flooding in.

Me? I prefer to be aware of the real danger in this world and adjust my own behavior, take my own calculated risks based on my own experience (and the advice from trusted professionals), and allow everyone else to do the same.

I like Grendel. He’s a mean, nasty, violent dude. He has no remorse for who he is. He makes it very clear what he is and what he’ll do. It’s on you to be bigger and stronger than him or respect his boundaries and let him be.

Here’s something interesting I just found; this book is on the Banned Library site. Over the years it has been banned at several schools for being “anti-christian, anti-moral, and violent” and “profane.” Makes you want to read it even more, doesn’t it?

My Empty Nest is not the End of the Word, But I Could Use a Hug

Every parent experiences the empty nest at some point, I know this. But what if we didn’t have to tuck it all down and experience it alone? Vulnerability in the midst of struggle is not my specialty, but sometimes I feel that my saying something might be just what someone else needs.

The perfect quote for an empty nest on a winter sunrise background.

“And this, he decides, is what a good-by should be.
Not a period, but an ellipsis, a statement trailing off, until someone is there to pick it up.”

The Invisible Life of Addie Larue by V.E. Schwab

Goodbyes are so hard. The end of a chapter, the turning of the page. I loved this ellipsis analogy. I often use those, and my son tries to tell me I’m doing it wrong. “It’s not a pause, Mom!” I know but…I like it that way! Think about it.

“Goodbye.”
Door shut. Time’s up. It’s over.

“Goodbye…”
Turns slowly. Starts walking. What’s next?

It’s different and it feels so much better.

And then this one.

“That time always ends a second before you’re ready.
That life is the minutes you want minus one.”

The Invisible Life of Addie Larue by V.E. Schwab

Yes, it does. I’m going through a big one of these right now. My youngest child has gone off to University in another state. I’m officially retired from everyday Mom-ing.

I have an empty nest.

Everyone knows that once you’re a mom, you’re always a mom. We have an amazingly close relationship. I never experienced that “teenage” stuff, where they shut themselves off from me. I know they’ll always be texting, sending me pictures, and coming back to visit as often as they can.

But… (I did it again)

I’m alone here all day now. And when my husband is done working, we’re alone all evening and all night. And when I get up in the morning, there’s no reason to keep quiet. I can do what I want at any time of day. The TV isn’t on unless I’m watching it. No one is playing music in the middle of the night. No one interrupts what I’m doing. It’s so damn boring.

I’ll admit that I was excited to retire. We have three kids. When the first one left, we relaxed. There was a bit more space in the house. When the second one left, we were happy. There he goes! Two down, one to go! We looked forward to the youngest taking off. If all three of our kids were out in the world taking care of themselves, we were off the hook. We did it. Done! Children are a huge, long-term commitment. It’s incredibly stressful.

But… (he he he)

It’s so quiet. And then…I’m choking up again as I write…can’t we have one more day? One more drive into the city? One more dinner? One more, “Guys! WTF? Can you not?!”

I wasn’t ready.
I seriously underestimated how hard an empty nest would be.

But…

Are we ever ready? I don’t think so. We just have to dive in and keep flailing around until we notice we’re swimming.

I’ve hesitated to write about this for several reasons. It’s so fresh. I’m still working through it. I don’t need other people’s crap right now. But it keeps coming back up. A scratch in the record that needs to be dealt with, not ignored. You’ll only keep hearing it every time you get to that part of the music.

The first is, as usual, I don’t want to make my kids feel bad. They are doing nothing wrong by growing up and going out into the world. Pursuing our own path is what we all do. That’s normal and good. While I’d certainly have no problem with them living here forever, I want them to chase their own dreams without worrying that the mother they love so much is having a nervous breakdown. It would defeat the purpose of raising children into adults if they were so afraid to hurt my feelings that they never left home.

The second is that I’m not good at being this vulnerable. While I’m good at telling others what I’ve already been through and worked on, I cringe at the thought of asking for sympathy and help as I need it. I’ve recently come to notice that my culture fosters independence over just about anything else and I’m not sure it’s all that healthy. Stand on your own two feet. Buck up. Don’t be such a baby about it. From childhood and adolescence, into adulthood, marriage, children, and on until we die, we’re encouraged to keep our feelings to ourselves, to deal with our own shit alone.

I’m starting to question the wisdom in that. The times that I have reached out to talk to someone about something I’m going through, I’ve always found that I’m not alone. Life’s stages are common. We all move through them. Amazingly enough, no matter what you’re going through, there are others that have been there, felt that. The key is finding those people, and they’re usually very close by, remaining silent, believing they are alone in the world too.

And the third reason is people’s reaction. I don’t find support when I express my pain, I generally find platitudes, dismissal, or worse…help or sympathy. We’re not trained in supporting others through something difficult. Have you ever felt something so strongly, a feeling you just don’t want to feel and can’t get away from? Have you ever told someone about it and they said, “That’s just life. It’ll be better tomorrow.” Yeah…not helpful. Or worse, “Everyone feels that. You’re being ridiculous.” And “I told you this was coming.”

What do I want? To be completely honest, I’m not sure. Maybe I simply want to be heard and to get a hug. I’d like to hear an affirmation. “This must suck.” Or “I feel that from you.” Maybe even questions like, “What are you going to do?” I also really enjoy hearing other people’s painful stories. “There was a time I felt that way.” Or “I remember when…” I hear that and I think, “Yes. I’m not alone. I’m just one of the humans here. Life does go on.” And then I consider what’s next or cry some more. It depends on my mood. Sometimes I want to wallow in my sadness awhile.

Ultimately, the story continues no matter what happens to any of us. It isn’t a period, end of line, close the book. It’s just…what’s next?

I blogged about “The Invisible Life of Addie Larue” when I started reading it back in January. It certainly didn’t take me long to read it all. I couldn’t put it down! Have you read it? You can find it on Thriftbooks.com if you don’t have it. I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments when you read it!

What is the The Key to Understanding Love?

Love is complicated. We can’t possess people like we possess things. We can’t turn a key and make people love us the way we love them. The key to understanding love starts with loving yourself as a complete individual.

Understanding love is not possession quote on a desert background.

“It’s because I love you that I won’t. Love is hungry. Love is selfish.”
“You’re thinking of possession.”
He shrugs. “Are they so different? I have seen what humans do to things they love.”
“People are not things,” she says. “And you will never understand them.”

The Invisible Life of Addie Larue by V.E. Schwab

I’m reminded of one my favorite stories here, The Phantom of the Opera. I always cry for the Phantom. He loves her, but she refuses him. Why? It’s not the ugly she can’t get around, it’s that he misunderstands love. He’s twisted and tortured into thinking possession is love. He twists and tortures her world in order to turn her toward him, to make her love him.

I always wondered what would happen if she decided to love him, despite his evil ways. Would it end up one of those “unconditional love changes people” stories?

That’s what Addie is trying to express here. The Darkness is so removed from humanity, (because he isn’t human), that he is incapable of understanding love.

Writing that I just thought this same thing could be said about the Lucifer character in the TV show. It’s part of why I loved it so much. There he was on earth with humans, learning about them in every conceivable way but love. Lucifer learns to experience love, what it means to be human.

Addie is right. He has confused love with possession, as most people do. That’s why he hasn’t been able to learn the difference. Examples of real love are few and far between. We should know and be able to practice the difference, but we rarely do. It’s easier to possess another than to love them.

Relationships are complicated and there’s so much to do. To experience real love (and not possession), we need to start with ourselves. And loving ourselves is no picnic.

I blogged about “The Invisible Life of Addie Larue” when I started reading it back in January. It certainly didn’t take me long to read it all. I couldn’t put it down! Have you read it? You can find it on Thriftbooks.com if you don’t have it. I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments when you read it!

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