“I dance whenever I can, but music only exists because the pauses exist, and sentences only exist because the blank spaces exist. ” — Paulo Coelho, The Witch of Portobello
I have a tendency towards intractability.
How do we find the courage to always be true to ourselves – even if we are unsure of who we are? This is the existential question in the this week’s quarantine book club episode of my blog. I dig Paulo, in the same way I love Gabriel García Márquez; there is something simple and comforting in the way they craft the words they put to paper, and the stories that they tell through those words.
In The Witch, we have Athena, nee Sherine Khalil; a woman who has decided to change her name in order not to betray her origins. Athena has led an interesting life, born an illegitimate child to a Romani gypsy, with a foreign father, abandoned by her mother, and then adopted by a wealthy Lebanese couple. She is an odd child, neither here nor there particularly, and this serves to occasionally put those around her on edge.
As Athena follows a dutiful path, she finds herself drawn in many ways to alternatives, some more traditional than others, and some more difficult to execute than others. She makes snap choices, sometimes seemingly disjointed choices, but the common thread is that she will be who she is, and that is her decision for life. It often appears that she jumps from one thing to another, without any sort of real plan.
Her story is told mostly through the ideas that the people around her have of her, since she is actually dead when the book begins. We learn about her through others, and their opinions.
Isn’t that the way of life?
It’s very hard to write these blog posts (the quarantine book club editions, the rest are pretty easy lol) – mostly because on the one hand I don’t want to give too much of the plot away, but I want to try and make my own point from the stories told in these particular books. I mean, seriously, is there actually a witch in this book? I imagine that you’ve got plenty of time to read the book if you choose, unless you are a lucky one with more work than time, and congratulations if that’s the case!
Here we are, at the moment, trapped in a strange cycle of unknowns, likely untruths, and a whole host of miscalculations. With that said, we each have to decide how we want to navigate through this mess, and what we are expecting when we come out the other side.
Every has friends (ok, maybe not everyone has friends, I just like starting the sentence with that phrase) with differing opinions on where we are in this godawful current affairs disaster; everyone has someone that agrees with them on the way forward, and most people have someones who disagree with them on the same. Frankly if you do not have at least one person that has an opposing or significantly skewed viewpoint that your own, I think that you would do well to reevaluate your circles; living in an echo chamber is a bad idea and does not serve to foster creativity, independent thought, or critical thinking skills.
Oh boy, so the witching, err, bitching, starts now?
Seriously, do you think I would bother with that? I thought I made my point in my blog last year about traveling and being open to new ideas. Right now we are seeing the cold underbelly of life, and I find it disconcerting when people stop questioning everything they are told to believe, no matter what side they is in charge of telling them these things.
So as we are all sitting around, getting ready to tear our proverbial hair out – have I ever mentioned that I am completely fascinated with alopaecia and the ways that it changes the appearance of the human face? I’m sure that sounds a little odd, but it’s not like I’m bothered by pretty much anything thinking that I’m odd.
Speaking of travel again, I have had the good or bad (always dependent upon how one personally views the scene) fortune to have been in multiple countries during times of serious civil unrest. Riots, natural disasters, that sort of thing. I’ve not actually lived in a place where a war is currently occurring, although I suspect that we could get to that point in a relatively short period of time here in the US.
I think that we’re all going to have to come to terms with the fact that our own views are simply parts of a larger picture, and that we must learn to be more tolerant of those who have different views. That doesn’t make them any less stupid, in my opinion, but when the alternative is worse than simply adjusting one’s tolerance levels, it should not take much for smart people to understand where the pitfalls and booby traps are scattered around, and to take special care not to set off land mines by accident.
Read the book if you haven’t, and then you can leave comments on my FB page – since I don’t have the time or feel the urge to moderate comments on the blog itself.