Sunday, October 5, 2008

Get out of context

I've always loved reading books. Even before I could read, I loved reading books. I'm told that one early birthday I had a pile of beautifully wrapped presents and a new (to me) little school desk with a short stack of books tied with a ribbon -- I ignored the presents completely and sat and turned the pages of my new books. So it's an affair that goes way back.

In middle school I discovered the small classic book section at my local library. Dumas' gallant heroes quickly became some of my favorite old friends. When I came to Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights, however, I was greatly disappointed. I have never been able to get past my severe annoyance with the main characters. I felt that 1) they needed a good spanking, and 2) they needed to get out of the house! If Hindley, Heathcliff and Catherine just got away from Yorkshire for a few weeks and sat in the sun for a while, I'm convinced all would have ended well. And the book would have been vastly improved.

If you don't believe me, read The Enchanted April. (Or watch the movie, it's also wonderful!) One of the many lessons I'm drawing from the story this time through is that sometimes we need to take ourselves "out of context". The first morning after arriving at San Salvatore (an old Italian castle with wisteria and sunshine), Lottie remembers not wanting Lady Caroline to come because she thought she might be shy of her, or Mrs. Fisher because she seemed "lofty"...once she refreshed her perspective, she thought "what an odd reason to want to shut someone out of heaven! So funny to worry about such little things, making them important."

I don't know about you, but I catch myself making mountains out of molehills on a daily basis. Okay, make that an hourly basis. Sometimes I recognize my over-reaction before it gets out of hand (or even better, out of my mouth). Sometimes I don't. But I think that it's easier to give things their proper perspective when you take a vacation from your normal routine (even if the only vacation you can rustle up involves ten minutes closed up in a room with a vase of flowers and a cup of tea). Again in Lottie's words -- "...just think how much nicer we'll be when we come back!"

Of course, sometimes we put too little importance on the small things of life. Here's an excerpt from one of my favorite scenes from the same chapter of The Enchanted April:

She noticed things she had not noticed in years. When she was doing her hair in front of the mirror, she noticed it - and thought, "why, what pretty stuff!" For years she had forgotten she had such a thing as hair.
When was the last time you noticed your hair?


  1. What a great post, Megan. We had a great time watching and discussing the movie Enchanted April last winter. It was recommended in the the book Sacred Romance. Last spring when I was reading War and Peace, Tolstoy wrote "the window gave the south". It reminded me that windows give gifts of beauty and ultimately of all the incredibly gifts that make up life.

  2. I have only seen the movie, but I really enjoyed it. I think I was pregnant with Abraham at the time I still sick. The movie in itself was such a nice break from the bathroom! I find it interesting that you mentioned hair. I recently got my hair cut. It had gotten to below my waist. Actually, I think the last time I had my hair cut was close to the last time I saw you. Crazy! Anyway, I got bangs and they have been looking pitiful and I have just been putting them behind my ears, too busy to deal with them. I just got a headband and really makes a difference. I can look put together easily now. For the first time in a long while my hair is not a nuisance. Great post!