“”It’s not good to complain about your flock,” she advised. “A flock is nothing but the put-together of all your past choices.””
— Barbara Kingsolver, Flight Behavior
It happens rarely, but sometimes, words I’ve read from a novel will linger within me. To be sure, it is never the exact line of prose that I remember, the one rendered so beautifully by the author. Instead, it’s something all together better since the author’s lines point to a living truth.
It happens something like this: I’m going along reading, reading, reading, really involved in the story, words flying and zooming past my eyes before I realize, a few sentences too late, that I’ve passed an important turn or perhaps a yellow blinking light that was cautioning me to slow down and take note. I have no choice but to pull over and take myself out of the story. I know from experience that I cannot proceed without circling back up the page to reread the unmarked but blinking passage. I return long enough to pause over it. Not too. But long enough that some bit of truth flies off the page to live within me.
Usually, the words, like those above written by Barbara Kingsolver, seem too small to fuss over. I don’t know what deeper meaning, if any, they are suppose to possess. Or what I am to make or do with them. But two days ago, more than a week after finishing Flight Behavior, I saw that if I substituted the word ‘flock’ for ‘life,’ how the meaning of Kingsolver’s two lines came close to thoughts I’ve been mulling over since …. well, whenever I last wrote a post in this blog.
I’ve been reading more than mulling here of late. Lots and lots of good books — not good enough to keep but good enough to donate to the local library for the good of a larger reading circle. Or so I thought, until today’s lunch, when I decided I’d been too hasty or perhaps moving on autopilot, when it came to my most recently stacked book, Amor Towles novel, Rules of Civility.
Six chapters into my latest read — E.L Doctorow’s award-winning Ragtime — I kept on thinking about Towels novel. Not the story, as good as it was, but two blinking passages I decided important enough to turn around for, to pick up, like hitchhikers off the side of the road.
The first passage reminds me never to give up on my dreams… and really, some things in life are too good not to share…
“You look back with the benefit of age upon the dreams of most children and what makes them seem so endearing is their unattainability–this one wanted to be a pirate, this one a princess, this one president. But from the way Tinker talked you got the sense that his starry-eyed dreams were still within his reach; maybe closer than ever.” (p. 300)
The second speaks around the same truth I tripped over in Kingsolver’s two simple lines. But since the passage is followed by a one sentence paragraph that reads — “Maybe that sounds bleaker than I intended — I’ll stop here. The second slice is good enough to keep for another day. My memory, unfortunately, is not. So note to self: the second can be found hiding on page 323.