When You Are Ready
I've been doing a lot of reading this year. It's part of my attempt to rebuild my brain. Earlier in the year (I don't remember in which part) I read a book called The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin. I liked the book, it was cute and sweet and there were little bits of analysis of various short stories shelved between the chapters. I think that there are a lot of sweet and important messages in the book in those pieces of exposition. However there was one in particular that I read and it has kept popping back into my head over and over since. I thought I would share it with you. This is one of the character's response to the story "The Luck of Roaring Camp" by Bret Harte in 1868, from page 41 of The Storied Life of A.J. Fickry:
"Overly sentimental tale of a mining camp that adopts and 'Ingin baby' whom they dub Luck. I read it for the first time at Princeton in a seminar called the Literature of the American West and was not moved in the least. In my response paper (dated November 14, 1992), the only thing I found to recommend it were the colorful character names: Stumpy, Kentuck, French Pete, Cherokee Sal, etc. I chanced upon "The Luck of Roaring Camp" again a couple of years ago and I cried so much you'll find that my Dover Thrift Edition is waterlogged. Methinks I have grown soft in my middle age. But me-also-thinks my latter-day reaction speaks to the necessity of encountering stories at precisely the right time in our lives. Remember, Maya: the things we respond to at twenty are not necessarily the same things we will respond to at forty and vice versa. This is true in books and also in life"
Maybe that little bit of information seems to boil down to an obvious kind of sentiment and yet it seems (to me at least) profound. I think that these treasures are always around us. There are always lessons and teachers and discoveries available in every stage of our life and experience, but we will only realize them when we are ready. Life follows cyclical patterns and lessons repeat over and over in words both the same and different. We see the same kinds of stories and movies over and over. We go through the same motions day after day, and yet we change and as we change each mundane activity has the potential to open up to something new. When we are ready we learn something new the lesson will be there waiting for us.
Learning is a dynamic process. It isn't just about thinking; it's also feeling and experiencing. There are some things that you don't KNOW until you DO. Some experiences you won't understand, until you've lived them. The same lessons keep cycling over and over until we get them but we won't get them until we are ready.
When you are ready you will know.
That's one of the things I'm constantly told by the not-quite-voice in my head. I don't know exactly why I felt like writing this out today... well.. actually I think I do know why, but that's another story for another day.