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Convergence ~ When Books, Music, and Life Come Together

I suppose as humans beings mature reach major milestones, they may become more inclined to reflect on their lives. As 40 approaches, that’s certainly become more and more true for me. I don’t want to dread the inevitable. I know it’s simply a waste of energy. It cheats one from enjoying the present. The present, after all, is really all that we have. This isn’t something I had been giving much thought, however, until several things came together at once: I was invited to write a post for Heroine Love week, I discovered The Decemberists, and I read A Thousand Rooms of Dream and Fear by Atiq Rahimi.

At first glance, these things don’t seem to have any connection at all. Heroine Love deals with fictional women who have come to hold powerful meaning in our lives. The Decemberists are a fantastic contemporary American band. Atiq Rahimi’s novel deals with the impact of coups and the impending Soviet invasion on life in Afghanistan in 1979. In all actuality, there may be no connection between heroines, The Decemberists, and 1979’s Afghanistan other than the life experience and education I brought to the table. That is one of the beauties of being human. We are each able to take in what’s around us and gather from it what we will.

Here’s how it all converged for me:

After Erin honored me with her request to take part in her Heroine Week festivities, it took me a while to decide which heroine I was going to write about.  Looking back, the choice was never in doubt. My heroine was destined to be Lisbeth Salander. Over the course of Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy, she became a treasured friend. After spending weeks thinking about her and finishing my Heroine Love letter to her, it still feels odd to say that. She’s a far cry from the first character anyone would associate with me.

I definitely struggled that post for Erin. I normally never get nervous about writing a post. I get into a zone and I’ve always written well under pressure. Not so for this. It feels as though I spent more time on that short letter to Lisbeth than I did on any of my college or grad school papers. It was while I was editing drafts, tossing drafts out completely, and beginning a new draft all over again that I discovered The Decemberists. I downloaded a copy of The Kind is Dead the morning it was released and have been obsessed with the song “This is Why We Fight” from my very first listen. Whatever the intended meaning behind the song, some of the lyrics brought Lisbeth’s character into sharp focus:

When we die
We will die with our arms unbound

What a passionate and beautiful way to view death and the life one leads before it. That sentiment summed up for me why Lisbeth didn’t simply give up when horrible things continued to happen. To her, life holds meaning only when she’s free to be herself. Death isn’t something to be feared when you make your life fulfilling and worthwhile.

I read A Thousand Rooms of Dream and Fear in order to participate in the book club established by Jenn from Devourer of Books and Nicole from Linus’ Blanket. In the beginning, Farhad, a young man from Afghanistan, is in hiding from the government. He believes that he is dying and he is paralyzed with fear over the afterlife. He recalls all of the religious laws and superstitions his grandfather taught him as a means of quelling his anxiety and, perhaps, changing his fate. I completely related to him in this state. I could easily see furiously trying to make up for not saying novenas, the rosary, going to confession, etc… by reciting prayers in a desperate attempt to avoid the flames.

I wondered if this reaction to the end of life is a human trait or something that might be particular to certain religious traditions. I tweeted this question, not anticipating any response at all. It’s not something easily discussed in 140 characters or less.  I was surprised when it did spark a conversation with someone I respect. We discussed the role of guilt, about the meaning of life, and about how important it is to love the here and now with all your heart.  It was that conversation that made the connection back to Lisbeth and “This is Why We Fight.”  It wasn’t until those three things came together the way that they did that I was able to finally write my post for Erin and feel satisfied with it.

Call it God, fate, or simply being open to new insights, it’s pretty interesting when things in your life converge into something new and powerful. I am looking forward to the day I turn 40 (I admit the cruise to the Bahamas with my best friend doesn’t hurt). It begins a new chapter in my life. A chapter where I will let go of my innate desire to please others. A chapter where I choose to love myself for who I am, warts and all. A chapter where I make taking care of myself a priority. A chapter where I choose to learn from guilt instead of being ruled by it. A chapter where I resolve to live so that I may die unbound.

6 Comments

  • At 2011.02.09 15:12, bermudaonion (Kathy) said:

    I hope all your wishes for your 40th birthday come true. I’m over 50 and I still strive for some of those things.

    Read more from bermudaonion (Kathy)

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    • At 2011.02.09 18:10, Just Mom said:

      What an uplifting post to read1 It’s not often enough I click out of Google reader to tell you how much I enjoy your blog – but I do enjoy it! I went on a 40th birthday cruise with grilfriends too – great, great time! Brought a suitcase full of books and sat on the deck by the pool and read all day then gussied up for dinner and partied at night. Keep telling hubby we should do one together but in truth I think the slow pace of cruising would make him stir crazy. Have a wonderful trip!

      • At 2011.02.09 20:06, Beth F said:

        I hope your 40s and beyond are everything you want them to be.

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          • At 2011.02.10 12:09, Shelley said:

            Nothing better than a best friend and an ocean.

            Happy day!

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