Tuesday, June 17, 2008
I’ve been reading short stories this summer, and it’s helping me realize, once again, how vast the universe of life really is. This is good for me, because all too often I fall into a very myopic view of life – a view that says everything is basically centered around diminutive and insignifcant “me”. This narrow-minded outlook makes the universe seem tiny instead of vast. It’s as if I’m the only entity that is really important, and the rest of the cosmos is merely a collection of minute particles to be either resisted or used for my advantage and then cast aside. Reading stories can dramatically transform this perspective. When I read about the poor, careworn men and women in Joyce’s “The Boarding House”, the universe slowly expands. It gradually changes from an undersized “me centered” place to a stretched out area containing these peculiar people in Joyce’s story. Slowly, as I keep reading, I realize there are countless people on earth – my brother and sister humans – who are laboring with grim lives just like the characters in the story. I begin to identify with these people as I turn the pages – begin to leave my narrow “self” behind and merge with the immense and teeming human race of which I have always been an inseparable part. It’s a strangely liberating experience, sort of like laying down an enormous burden I’ve been carrying – the burden of the colossal and vulnerable ego. Each time I start a new story, I feel lighter, freer, more ready to become acquainted with the vastness of life rather than to resist and turn away from it.