Friday, August 23, 2013

Growing Up (Part III - The Two Worlds)

“A children's story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children's story in the slightest.” 
                                                                                     C.S. Lewis       

Well, I could not agree more. I look at some of the books I read as a kid or even later as a teenager and I still love them, with the same childish passion and dedication I did then. They are good books, written well, with the kind of sense of adventure only the free spirit of a child would really enjoy and yet, twenty years later I still find them amusing and thrilling in their surreal approach of the world. More so, as adults we have discovered, sadly or fortunately, that the world can be that unpredictable, unbelievably cruel or loving, amazing or depressing and that we can identify ourselves with many of the heroes in these fantasies.

Perhaps we face a different kind of danger, but we get the chills down our spine the same way Tarzan did before jumping in a waterfall to escape with his life from being chased by a lion. Our hearts skip a beat just as silently and beautifully when from afar we look at the one we love and with a short whispered breath we dream to have their arms around us, just as Floris did when sneaking on Baptistine during their adventurous quests around the world.  

Some things never change as we grow up. I will always hate reading love books just as much as I hate watching love movies. But you know what? I always do, always! And then I hate myself for it. I live them so deeply, I am mad, I am happy, I hurt following the up rise and downfall of the love story that by the end of it I am exhausted and remind myself why I hate it. I only saw “The Notebook” once. Enough for a life time. I only read “Elevul Dima dintr-a saptea” (“The Pupil in the 7th grade”) and “Scrisoare de dragoste” – “The Love letter” - once. I remember reading “Maitreyi” when the phone rang. I was over in my home town, still in high school at the time. And my friend at the end of line asked me what happened because I sounded as if I was crying. “I’m reading Maitreyi” I said bluntly. That to me was self explanatory haha. With “The Love Letter” I read half way through and I was living the bliss of their incredible love story. Then, suddenly, I turn the page and I see these few words on a whole blank page: the separation, or something like that – I don’t remember exactly, BUT I remember how the sky collapsed on top of my head, because I knew what they meant. I closed the book that instant and never finished it to the day. I read somewhere a summary of it and yes, that guy was such a jerk to leave the love of his life for another woman just because she was wealthier. Why would someone write a book just to hurt you? A beautiful love song to then crush it until the last note becomes nothing but the screeching of a knife on the readers’ heart as it bleeds! Total astonishment!  

Well, I tell you now, no story of mine will ever end badly. It may have just screwed things up for some of you reading them now that you know this, but if you’re looking for a happy ending, you’ll find it with me. It’s a pledge I made when I was a kid. I saw a few cartoons back then like “Lady Oscar”, “Georgie or “Candy” – some of you probably remember them from Rai UNO – and they all loved, lived and suffered terrible losses. It enraged me! I hand wrote a 48 pages long story (that has never been finished till present – but I will write a small post about it soon) just to get the characters from “Georgie” back together. “If they go through the fires of hell and have to cross the globe through unthinkable perils, and still they will end up together!” I said to myself back then.

And I still believe in my theory. If that love is worthwhile, then the fighting and the struggle to keep it alive and make it happen, it’s not a price to pay. It’s not even a sacrifice. It’s a necessary thing so that when it happens you will have the most precious thing of them all in life: your other half. And to that effect here is another truthful quote.

“Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.”
                                                        Charles William Eliot

Of course, this does not mean that we must all live in a constant fairy tale with no bounds to imagination and in total ignorance of the real world. But as I said on my website, find inspiration in life, because our own lives, here and now, are the inexhaustible source of inspiration for everything that’s ever been written. In order to write we must live. No one is inventing anything new that has not been lived by someone else at another time or in other circumstances. Love still happens, still hurts and still thrills, people will still fight for land, power and honor, the world will still be a blessed yet awful place to live in. It’s a matter of choice and that choice is ours to make. We can live their love, life and ambitions, in secret, lost in the pages of the book so when the light turns off we go to bed and dream with it. Yet, the next morning we do not have the courage to take the smalls steps to follow our own dreams and desires. It is not impossible, it’s just hard.

I come up with some pretty evil scrupulous characters in my stories; people who would step on corpses to see their plans through. Selfish, inconsiderate and manipulative minds who would scheme and plot in ways you and I would not be able to. Do I believe such people exist in reality? Of course. Thank God I haven’t met any. Not to such an extent anyway hehe We all have had our share of “unkind” people, but I believe we’ve been blessed with many others, my “support” characters as I call them, who will patch you up and put you back on your feet when the “bad” people hurt you.

You got problems at work? Someone is trying to sabotage you? You work hard and success is still a long way ahead? You’ve saved money all your life and still it doesn’t seem like you can make it, yet the guy next door, a total jack ass doing God knows what makes ten times more than you do and can afford all the things you can’t? Have you drawn up a list of questions and complaints to address God when you meet Him, because you’re just pissed with things being so unfair? Or perhaps just as you were adding a few more items to the list, the phone rang and someone dear called to see how you were doing and all of a sudden you forgot about the list, thinking that maybe you were exaggerating?

Well, it’s all in there. In the pages of a book. So, lose yourself in it and read all about your life. And then, when you come down the subway stairs, look over your shoulder as you pass by the unobservant passengers, as if you’re being chased by secret agents, flip through your songs and put on Faithless with “Insomnia” and then smile like an idiot for acting so stupidly when other people only look grim and worry about being late for work. What’s the benefit of being an idiot every now and then? It’ll help you live longer.

You want to know if I do it? All the time! A friend asked me, how do I come up with stories, where does it come from? Do I just put my life on a hold and think about it? Nope. The answer is, I am always connected to this parallel world in my head. I can sit at the lights waiting to cross the street and a scene pops into my head because I just saw something that triggered it: like a girl losing her scarf to the wind as she crosses and a boy stops in the middle of the road, totally annoyed that he found it and now he has to make up his mind whether to take it back to her or just ignore it. And I’m staring at him really struggling to make such a simple decision in a matter of seconds, but a decision that would cost him time, ‘cause the light will go red again and he’ll have to stand in line a second time. For a stranger. And yet, against our “time is money” attitude in life these days, he shakes his head, visibly unhappy, grabs the scarf and starts running in the opposite direction yelling after the girl. And I watch them from afar as I’m going the same way. I see him handing her the scarf and she genuinely seems surprised but he continues to have the same annoyed face, like “Better not do it again, girl. You only get lucky once. Made me waste time on this crap!” And then she smiles, one of those smiles you rarely get from people, especially in big cities where we just don’t interact. And his annoyance fades out as if it had been erased with a sponge. “Thanks, thanks so much!” He’s in love with that. He smiles, totally caught off guard, backs up shyly and says “No problem.” He runs back to catch the next green light passing me by. The girl hurries in the opposite direction, but takes one more look at the guy before disappearing into the crowd. That for me, right there, is inspiration. And I didn’t have to think of it. Life provided. Just keep your eyes, your mind and your heart open and you’ll see it and you’ll feed on it taking all the positive energy it comes with.

Soooo… here are few of the books that I read as a kid, I love them, I adore them and I would love my kids to read them one day. Make your kids read them. In hard copy, please! Not some PDF crap on IPads, computers, laptops or whatever. Nothing compares to the feeling of a book stashed in your purse or backpack, always having to straighten the corners that got torn due to your negligence. And the feeling of falling asleep with a book in your arms is priceless just as the thrill of being impatient, sneaking on your characters, looking ahead into the book just to find out if it ends well to then get back to page 37 and continue reading knowing now that disaster has been avoided. I do that sometimes haha. But don’t do what I do, ok?

This is the first lengthy reading I've done. I was 8 years old. I used to read a lot of Dostoevsky's stories, because they were short and I was afraid of reading anything bigger than a few pages. Mom - of course! - insisted, and this was the first trial. I was really proud! hehe

Tarzan and The Return of Tarzan (The Temple of Opal) if I remember correctly - were my lecture for third grade. I felt as if I was taking on the Everest. See, it's hard until you get me going. Afterwards, I'm unstoppable :)))

Ok, these were like a constant in my life as a kid. I have many books of the series and if I really put my mind to it, I bet I can remember at least five stories hehe
Now this! This is one huge crush for me. It's what caused, many many years later Death is just another beginning. Achilles rules - just in case someone still doubted my passion for him! haha

I loved this book and I hated it at the same time. But I read the whole damn thing!

Major crush! I loved Floris, he's my kind of guy. He was so intellgent, cunning, yet truthful to his heart, loved ones and most of all to his princples that he was just one big reason for me to hate Baptistine all through out the books! haha
High school stuff! Morometii was by far my favorite reading. I dreamt of that book and I was lucky enough to have it as an exam item for graduation. I did not have enough pages to write down all I had to say :) Then again for Master's I translated some of it for class. Amazing!

Well, to conclude with, here are three more of my favorite quotes.
Puppy love everyone! (Don’t try to understand it, it’s an inside joke I have with Emily! Hehe)

“A great book should leave you with many experiences, and slightly exhausted at the end. You live several lives while reading.” 
                                                     William Styron

“In the case of good books, the point is not to see how many of them you can get through, but rather how many can get through to you.” 
                                                                Mortimer J. Adler

“You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, or who had ever been alive.” 
                                                     James Baldwin

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