Before Christmas I read Lolita in Teran. It is a memoir of the determination of the human spirit. The setting is Iran. When I read such meaty books, I am so thankful that I was born in America. Last week I read the Shanghi Girls. This is a memoir of two sisters persevering through hardship and persecution. Even though it is painful, I like to read this kind of literature to force me to embrace other cultures and know some of the pain they have endured. It is beneficial for me to know how others have sacrificed and struggled in times of war or revolution. I admire how these characters seek wisdom , God, and art even though the setting around them is poverty and oppression. I really enjoy memoirs because they are based on someone's real life experiences.
I am reading Water For Elephants this week. It is not a memoir but based on true experiences. It is about being in the circus, which was one of my childhood dreams. Again, it has characters that come over adversity. I read these kinds of novels, so I won’t whine, complain, or feel sad. These books teach me that hardships make strong characters. I would aspire to write such a wonderful novel. However, my life has not been harsh, but affable. Sure, there have been some hard times, childhood verbal and physical abuse, bad decisions, obstacles, debilitating diseases in my parents; but, overall, I am blessed. From childhood, I have chosen to see the glory in the land, the sparkle in an old person’s eye, and the last few dollars at the end of the month as a gold mind. I marvel at childhood chatter and make-believe and benefit from their free spirit.
Even though my husband beats me in gin rummy almost every night, I just enjoy the anticipation of maybe winning this night and spending time with him. I thank God that He has shown me how to look at things through rosy glasses and not dirty, gray ones. However, I have not walked in the moccasins of so many of my friends. They live daily with heartache of the loss of a loved one or live with an alcoholic or endure spousal abuse. One friend has cared years for a husband with a fatal disease; another friend wonders how she will pay her heat bill. These are real life heroes that daily come over so many obstacles. They recharge themselves with the word of God , and His grace is sufficient. They find joy in a simple cup of tea. They give of themselves to others. These friends teach me daily how to live life today. It is as if I am reading their life novel, only their lives must be lived out in days and years, not on pages.
It is through knowing and loving such dear friends that I am humbled each day. They choose to live, not to nag, drag, or gag on their daily portion. I read books to learn of other cultures, to understand new subject matters, to enjoy a lifestyle that I will never embark. However, it is the friends with whom I am surrounded that give me balance. They teach me faith. They extend gratitude when I might not understand why. I cherish these friends for the depth and grace of living that they have modeled. I thank God daily for these friends.