Friday, July 24, 2009

A Return of Sweet Sorrow

I am a big bookworm, if that word still exists. One of many daily habbits that I have is that I read before I sleep. I had been reading a book of short stories by Henry James, but last night I felt like reading something different.

But before I get into that, let me talk about something else.

When I moved back to Japan two and a half years ago, I had to bid my tearful farewell to virtually the two thirds or more of what I owned. Just to clear out of my flat to move to another country after 12 years of material accumulation came with quite a bit of a cost. It hurts to think back on just how much I had to leave behind.

The hardest thing that I had to let go of was my books. I had about 300 books in my flat, including the textbooks for my Eng Lit. courses. Sadly, books weigh hell of A LOT when you have a whole bunch. I had a moving company come over to my flat and estimate the cost of the total shipment to Japan, and I was told it would be close to, I kid you not, 2 grands on books alone. It didn't help that I had always preferred the hard cover editions. I still do. It might have been one of the hardest decisions I had to make in my life, but I finally decided to let go of about 70 % of my books. I actually regret having done it (and I rarely regret anything). I wish I used the money I got from selling my car on a voyage ticket for all my dear books, every single one of them. 2 grands or not, it would have been worth it in a long run, because the emotion that I shared with each and every page of the books is simply too priceless to make it happen again the same way.

Swallowing the sorrow, let me move forth for now.

One of the precious survivors is the complete works of William Shakespeare, the textbook they used for Shakespeare I and II in Eng Lit.

This gigantic item, with its hard board cover-box, weighs what seems like 10 lbs. It comprises of 3450 very, very, very thin, almost transparent, leaves. When a book is too heavy to hold with just one hand, it's just too big-fat-assed for its own good. Yet, despite the completely unpractical size and weight of it, I just love this holly grail of all books on earth.

From time to time, whenever my spirit moves, I read this - bits and pieces of it at least, and I am always reminded of what I was feeling when I was a college student: the genuine hope, fear of not knowing, wanting and willing, openness to possibilities and love... the whole complexity of it all. And last night was one of these times when I felt quite nostalgic of that particular time period of my life, and I started reading his sonnets in bed.

My favorite has always been 116, which I'm sure anyone who shares its love for Shakespeare or English literature is familiar with. I hadn't read this in a long while. Before I began reading, I admit, I was half afraid it may not seem as good as it used to because, I don't know, it might be too purely idealistic for my 1-decade-older idea of love and hope, to which I'm afraid but might have to call cynicism. Yet...

...thank you, Bill!

Allow me to quote that which never fails to shine a light of hope in my heart after all these years.

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds
Or bends with the remover to remove.
O no, it is an ever fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wand'ring barque,
Whose worth's unknown although his height be taken.
Love's not time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

To read is to escape. But to escape, there has to be hope. In the end of the day, as I turn the pages of yet another story, I am a hopeful person.

And as a prince of Denmark once said dying, "the rest is silence."

Until next time.


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