On Wanting to Know

Have you ever, halfway through a really good book, had a strong and sudden urge to read the ending? Even though you’ve been warned not to since age seven; even though you know in your bones it’ll ruin the surprise of it all—still, you almost feel you have to know what will happen.

I remember the first time I read Anne of Green Gables—it belonged to my sister, and it was in a set of three books. At the time, I didn’t know that there are actually seven or eight books, all told, in the series, so I thought I was reading the whole thing (books 1, 2, and 5 were included in this particular “anthology”). Maybe you can imagine my confusion when Anne’s story progressed smoothly—ridiculously smoothly!—from adoption, to hating Gilbert, to sorta-liking Gilbert and fitting in at school, to being married to Gilbert Blythe! I’d seen the movies; I knew there was more to the story than that.

Even worse, though, I’d gotten so used to the lovely descriptions of Anne’s perfect life, that I was not prepared for certain events that came in book 5. I won’t go spoil it for you, but I’ll say this: the movies didn’t do Anne of Green Gables justice. Something happens to Anne and Gilbert that is painful, and real—and I was not ready for it. I felt betrayed by the author, as if L.M. Montgomery had made the earlier books wonderful on purpose, just to make more of an emotional impact with the turn she took with Anne’s later life.

It was so lovely, you see—in fact, I really think it’s hard to match Anne’s descriptions of a lovely, right world. She sees everything so poetically, as if everything has some element of delight for her, even if it’s sad or tragic. Except that up until this tragedy, nothing terribly sad has happened to her. As a reader, I had not experienced anything but a shared delight with Anne’s outlook. I’d missed all the misunderstandings with Gilbert, and all the reconciliation with Marilla and Mrs. Lynde, and I’d missed the part where Anne goes out on her own and learns how not to be lonely in a new, unfriendly place. I’d missed Anne’s preparation for her trial. Perhaps if I hadn’t, then I’d have had a better understanding that not everything in Anne’s world is beautiful and lovely. But I’d unintentionally read the ending prematurely. And I wasn’t ready for it.

As usual, I’m only halfway talking about Anne of Green Gables, and books, and L.M. Montgomery. I think people’s lives are stories; and I embrace the idea that all of life is part of a larger Story, with many parts and a great many characters, and one Author. That book hasn’t ended yet (if it has an ending at all), and neither have our individual stories. Still, I sometimes want nothing more than to see how the ending plays out. I want to look ahead and see how this or another event turns out. What happens to this character? Is he here when the final chapter ends? Is she? Are we still in each other’s stories a couple chapters from now? How will the decision I made today play out when I’m twenty-five? Or thirty-seven? Or will it matter at all?

I want to know. That’s what I want—to be sure. Of something, or anything—

It’s just that, lately, I’m not so sure I’m ready to know what comes later. I’m a little more content to know what I know, and not worry about the next chapter. I’ve realized what a lovely time I’ve had of it so far, and it makes me a little nervous to realize that anything—adventure, romance, tragedy—might happen tomorrow. On the very next page.

See, there’s where I get scared. I go from wanting to be at tomorrow already, to never wanting tomorrow to arrive. I wish I knew the secret to thriving in today. Not worrying about tomorrow, not fearing it, not dreading that which I don’t know, but waiting in a patient expectation that whatever comes will be for good. I hope that, when I get there, I don’t feel betrayed by the Author for not warning me ahead of time. I wish I were better at trusting that, like in the Anne stories, when hard times comes, I’ll have had a whole set of experiences—a whole life—to prepare me for them.

As far as the wanting to be sure of things goes, over the break I’m hoping to read a book called The Myth of Certainty: The Reflective Christian and the Risk of Commitment by a man named Daniel Taylor. I hadn’t heard of it before, and I don’t know quite what it’s about, but it seems like it’s something I ought to read. A professor here is heading up a discussion of the book, and I hope to post some of my gleanings from the books and from other people here, on the blog.

Maybe it’ll be worth our while:)

What I Wrote on Monday

As a prefatory note: I wrote most of this on a Monday, when it was raining and I had tests in my near future. There’s a sequel, from the night before the tests happened–equally as grouchy–that I’m not sure I should post (or maybe I should…:/) entitled “Jo Has Finally Cracked.” That one turned into some weird, almost-poem-ish-but-not thing.

All of that being said, I’m only posting this so I can get it out of the way, because I want to talk about something else, but I can’t if there’s something I already started. So I can say I warned you, lovely reader–this one ain’t pertic’ly insightful.

 

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“I must confess that the view from which I sit has been rather grey…” –Elizabeth Bennett, Pride and Prejudice (2005)

Today I get to quote Elizabeth Bennett. And that makes any day better–just try it if you don’t believe me. Find a ridiculous and painfully-accurate social situation in any of Jane Austen’s books and muse, as you drink your tea, on the curiousness of people. If your soul is feeling as bipolar as the weather, grumble to yourself the following passage:

There are few people whom I really love, and still fewer of whom I think well. The more I see of the world, the more am I dissatisfied with it; and every day confirms my belief of the inconsistency of all human characters, and of the little dependence that can be placed on the appearance of merit or sense.

-Pride and Prejudice

Or don’t, if you don’t feel like it.

Maybe not everyone is as affected by the weather as I am. Maybe not everyone has been a grouch for going-on-two-weeks-now, like I have, blaming my moodiness and general dissatisfaction with everybody on stress from tests and papers and the like. As if I have anything At All to complain about. Just as if it’s not a privilege to go to college and learn things about how the world works and what’s important in life and what people can do with their minds and hearts  and all that stuff. 

[Enough, Jo. Get to the point.]

The point is that I’m a selfish being who only thinks about herself, mostly, and I am bored–so bored!–with my self-absorbed thoughts. So I’m going to quote. I’m going to quote the fire out of this blog-thing, and engage with other people’s thoughts instead–people who said worthwhile things or funny things or interesting things that deserve being said again.

I hope that it helps somebody besides just me.

“I must learn to be content with being happier than I deserve.” –Jane Austen (see, I told you she was a good one!)

“I haven’t any right to criticize books, and I don’t do it except when I hate them. I often want to criticize Jane Austen, but her books madden me so that I can’t conceal my frenzy from the reader; and therefore I have to stop every time I begin. Every time I read Pride and Prejudice I want to dig her up and beat her over the skull with her own shin-bone.”
― Mark Twain          (Okay, so clearly not everyone agrees with me.)

“If the person you are talking to doesn’t appear to be listening, be patient. It may simply be that he has a small piece of fluff in his ear.”
― A. A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh 

“[A] quotation is a handy thing to have about, saving one the trouble of thinking for oneself, always a laborious business.”
― A.A. Milne, If I May    (Ouch.)

“If people ask me,
I always tell them:
“Quite well, thank you, I’m very glad to say.”
If people ask me,
I always answer,
“Quite well, thank you, how are you today?”
I always answer,
I always tell them,
If they ask me
Politely…
BUT SOMETIMES
I wish

That they wouldn’t”
― A.A. Milne, When We Were Very Young

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I think I’ve decided I may as well post the sequel to my confustication (that’s a word, right? From Tolkien’s Hobbit?). So I’ll just make this post doubly unhelpful and weird. Sorry about that.

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Jo has finally cracked.

I’m sitting here, trying to study for a midterm tomorrow, and I’m trying to understand why my laptop will not access the internet. It’s not that it can’t. This is a college campus, where WiFi is to be had in abundance. My computer could do things if it tried.

It just won’t.

I HATE TECHNOLOGY. haha, not really—it’s not that that’s making me alternately cry then laugh hysterically, as I push buttons and click things—in vain—in an attempt to get back online to see and study my notes.

It’s that I, Jo, am overwhelmed and trying not to admit it. As I’m typing this, I realize that midterm grades are up, and I sort of want to check them and sort of really don’t. Then I remember. I can’t. Cause my computer hates me.

OH HELP. Help and bother. Stress shouldn’t be a thing. Worrying shouldn’t be a thing. Other people’s problems shouldn’t be a thing—because if I’m stressed (and compared with many people’s my worries are minor ), then other people are much, much tougher than I am.

I. AM. SO. FRUSTRATED RIGHT NOW.

God, help me! Please, please help me. Just help.

Help me remember

Help me remember You.

Your grace

Peace

Joy. Wide-eyed joy.

 

Hope

like a blue sky

Remind me, Father, how large You are—how deep and wide and strong Your wisdom, Your power, Your love, is and has been for ages and ages and ages and I can’t fathom it

So far back

If I thought—if I could grasp it—what it means that You have always been, and will always be—I would…

I don’t know.

I wouldn’t worry, i guess is what I’m trying to say.

 

Thanks, God.