Friday, June 19, 2015

A Tale for the Time Being

Have you ever read a book that you then couldn't describe to others? I'm in a book club and we talk about the major themes of the novels we read, the challenges presented to and by the characters, that sort of thing. But honestly, I don't know what to tell you about this book except that it sort of blew my mind. I know some people will (or have) read it and maybe weren't all that impressed. I don't think my mind is so easily blown, honestly, but this book did it. It's about growth and change and self-exploration; it's about the power of the mind and how we interact with one another. It's also about suicide, in a sense, and that always resonates with me. From the book:

Life is a thing that has some kind of weight and shape; this is only an illusion. Our feeling of "alive" has no real edge or boundary. Death is certain; life is always changing like a puff of wind in the air, or a wave in the sea, or even a thought in the mind. So making a suicide is finding the edge of life. It stops life in time so we can grasp what shape it is and feel it is real, at least for a moment.

This is such a different way of thinking about suicide. I've been in that moment; that moment in between heartbeats when life seems so unbearably dreadful that the only way to come to terms with it is to end it - and in that deciding, joy and laughter seep around the edges to remind me that life isn't completely dreadful. That is finding the edge of life. The trick then, is finding the edge of life without making a suicide.

Oh, and there's so much more. Would that I had the words to give you the feelings I had while listening to this book: to make you feel the depth of thought, the black abyss of sadness and confusion, the peace of a Buddhist monastery and that singular Japanese way of thinking about things like death and life and the decisions that make up both.

I don't have those words though, so you should read the book on your own: A Tale for the Time Being, by Ruth Ozeki.

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