Wednesday, July 30, 2014

If you keep on living you'll get glad again

As luck would have it—or, as Anne would say, as Providence would have it (because what is luck, really?)—I found myself in chapters 19–21 of Anne's House of Dreams tonight. They were chapters full of tragedy and grief, but also of recovery and faith. They were so sorrowful that I had to look ahead to make sure things turn out happily in the end (thanks Wikipedia (ever accurate source of all knowledge)), which was silly, really, because it's Anne we're talking about.
"Oh, Marilla, I don't see how I can EVER be happy again—EVERYTHING will hurt me all the rest of my life." 
"Time will help you," said Marilla, who was racked with sympathy but could never learn to express it in other than age-worn formulas.
"It won't hurt so much always, Anne." 
"The thought that it may stop hurting sometimes hurts me worse than all else, Marilla."
"Oh—dreams," sighed Anne. "I can't dream now, Captain Jim—I'm done with dreams." 
"Oh, no, you're not, Mistress Blythe—oh, no, you're not," said Captain Jim meditatively. "I know how you feel jest now—but if you keep on living you'll get glad again, and the first thing you know you'll be dreaming again—thank the good Lord for it!" 
I don't know how people make it through life without the wisdom of the written word.

One of my favourite scriptures is D&C 109:7, "And as all have not faith, seek ye diligently and teach one another words of wisdom; yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom, seek learning even by study and also by faith."

I don't think that Anne of Green Gables amounts to scripture, but it certainly is a "best book." I'm not sure how I managed to get through so much of my life without reading it or having it be read to me, frankly. Anne has found a place in my heart right beside Laura Ingalls. Even if Anne is completely fictionalized, there is beauty and wisdom, knowledge and faith in her stories—in L.M. Montgomery's stories. There are nuggets of truth tucked away on every page and today my soul was lapping them up. My soul was gorging itself on the faith, hope, and wisdom that L.M. Montgomery prepared for me 100 years ago.

That's the magic of literature.

I wish that I could write as exquisitely, but so far I can't. I write a lot but not much other than what I write here and so much of that is humdrum, run-of-the-mill, daily grind stuff that I'm not sure it will ever amount to literary genius. But the thing is that so much of Anne's story is...humdrum, run-of-the-mill, daily grind stuff. And it's beautiful.

As far as character development goes, though, I'm clueless—too busy trying to develop actual characters to worry about fictional ones, I suppose. I have noticed, though, that I tend to start mimicking the style of whatever author I'm reading, bringing truth to that oft-quoted axiom: to write well, read. Not that my writing magically gets better when I read but because I read I write differently than I would if I read less.

I'm running out of things to say on this topic other than to say that I'm really doing alright and I'm sure that eventually I'll get glad again. And one day I'll think back on how terrible I thought this week's been and I'll laugh about it, as I usually do when I look back on things.

I wonder if I'll ever manage to look back at anything and think, "Yes, yes, I handled that situation well. Such decorum and grace—and absolutely no snot on my face."

Part of me thinks I never will. Part of me thinks I'll always remain a little bit silly and foolish. But that's life for you—no matter how much you learn and grow there are always more ways to learn and grow right around the corner.

In chapter 29 of Anne of the Island, it says that Anne "felt very old and mature and wise—which showed how young she was."

I laughed a little when I read that (and have been laughing about it for days in my mind) because I know that feeling so well. But I suppose we don't have to be mature and wise at every moment because the moments are how we gain our wisdom and maturity. Without the foolishness, without the mistakes, without the pain, we wouldn't end up anywhere, would we?


  1. There are definitely moments in my life that I look back on and cannot laugh. Nope. They were awful, truly awful. BUT I can look back and feel that there is love and compassion and understanding there, though some of those hard times still make my heart heavy when I think about them. But...I survived. We all survived some pretty hard things!

    1. And also, given my deep love of all things Anne Shirley, I am so sorry that I did not properly introduce you two. I am completely aghast at myself!

    2. I did a whole presentation on the Anne books for by YA Lit class in 1988. Pretty sure that as I was re-reading and preparing that presentation that your older sisters were reading those books. I probably may have read bits and pieces of them aloud at that time, too. So...I probably THOUGHT you were introduced to them, but you were THREE. So. Yup.

  2. I love Anne! I can read those books over and over again. You should also try the Emily series. They are very good as well.

  3. I love this post. And I love reading great books and how it makes me better. And I love Anne.

  4. I kind of feel like Anne is one of my best friends. :) I love so many bits from those pages.