Monday, May 24, 2010

the worst/best day of my life so far

Two weeks ago on a Friday, I noticed all sorts of items packed up in boxes. There was a community garage sale of sorts sponsored by a local organization. We were, apparently, donating items for the sale. In one box I spotted a paperback that looked interesting that I'd not read. The title was The Worst Day of My Life So Far. A blurb from a review on the cover read, "Readers..will find themselves laughing out loud and moved to tears." I thought I could use a book with a bunch of laughs in it. Besides, what was to be the next book on my list was a 750 page tome about the war in Vietnam. It came highly recommended and it will probably be interesting, but the page numbers were daunting. So, about a week ago I started reading, The Worst Day of My Life So Far.

I finished it yesterday. Not a funny book. A very good book and I am glad I yanked it out of the garage sale intended box, but not a funny book at all. It is about a woman of my vintage and her relationship with her mother. A large part of the book is about how the main character goes home to care for her Alzheimer afflicted mother after her father dies. Excellently written, very powerful, very very few laughs.

Sometime last week, Wednesday I think it was, I came across a passage that resonated. The main character is thinking back on her childhood and the relationship she had with her parents. She writes,

"That's what I thought I had absorbed from my childhood around [my parents]. Love was the supreme emotion. The ultimate noun. I did not yet know that love is really a verb."

In my home I knew love was a verb. It is a noun also and I think one has to feel it as a noun before it can become a verb, but ultimately requited love--whether filial or romantic--requires the noun and the verb. Without the latter, the former is an insidious illusion. And the worst days of our lives will be those when we will ourselves to acknowledge this.

Good books, even depressing ones, make me want to read more. So because it was a good, if sad, read--I started another book last night. Again, I eschewed the 750 page book about the lie that was Vietnam. This time I picked up a thriller, Innocent, the sequel to the never-to-be-equalled- courtroom drama Presumed Innocent. (The best book ever of this genre and an example of why one should rarely see a movie instead of a book).

So I pick up Innocent in part to wash away the lingering depression over The Worst Day of My life so Far. And about fifty pages in, I read another line that stops me flat. [if you read Presumed Innocent and you are someone who does not like to know anything about sequels, then stop here, though I am not giving away much]. A significant character in the book is pondering a decision about love, "How, my heart shrieks, can I be doing this again?...the answer is always the same: Because what has lain between then and now--because that time is not fully deserving of being called living."

It is no accident that many books are about love. The best days of our lives are those, I think, when we respect the love we feel, and have the courage to love as a verb.

A non sequitor for sure, but I like Orlando tonight and think the series goes 6. The Lakers will win in 5. Celtics beat the Lakers in 5 or 6.

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