Sunday, November 22, 2009
The Elegance of the Hedgehog
I just finished reading this book. I'm going to talk about the ending, so don't read any further if you haven't read it. Epiphanies have happened to me during my lifetime. Profound ideas about literature, the world, what it means to be alive. I have often worried that just when my life has reached the peak of satisfaction, when everything comes together in perfect harmony and bliss, that is moment when it will all be taken from you. My reason for being on this earth has been completed and I immediately move on. So, perhaps it is better to circle around that attainment of perfection. Or does something magical keep us from reaching perfection? And is our death merely random? Am I only trying still to find meaning in everything that happens on this earth? Achieving a profound revelation and then dying, or being killed, is a tragedy. I suppose that's all it is in the end. I always think of John Lennon. I never thought much about him at all before he died but now I always think of him and the way he died and wonder if he found harmony and bliss and then was shot dead. He'd done what he came here to do. And I suppose many more people think of him now in a profound and positive way than they would have had he lived. There's something quite compelling about a martyr. That's the main thing that makes Jesus so popular to most people who base their religious beliefs on him. He died for them. What is the meaning in Madame Michel's random death? If it is random, can there be meaning? Yes. For Paloma, it was a lesson in why we should hang on to life and hold it dear, no matter the problems we see in the world; the larger world or in our own small world. Of course, I knew beauty would be the author's reason for living. It may sound simple but it is true and real. Stop and smell the roses. Cliche, but apt. Yesterday, my oldest son said, I love you. I was preoccupied and his words seemed a bit intrusive, but I thought of how other parents don't hear these words from their teenagers and I felt grateful. I went over to him and said, thank you, and gave him a hug. If he never said it again, I would have that memory, that moment. I try to live in the present even as I go along thinking of my next project, my next shopping errand, our next family event. This idea of beauty - noticing it, seeking it, surrounding oneself with it - it's a good one. I'm going to pursue it.