Wednesday, January 21, 2009

To Give Is To Recieve...

I had the opportunity over the long weekend to re-read The Giver, by Lois Lowry. It has been my favorite book since sixth grade, after the first time I read it for Ms. Downs Language Arts class. However, I haven't read it since a year or two after that... Thus, I wanted to read it again and see if it still held the same captivating themes it did for me when I was twelve.

It does.

The entire time I was re-reading it, I felt that rush of longing to finish... Not in the way that you are praying to get through something so that is can be done, but in the way that you have no desire to put it down. It enthralled me all over again, and I found myself pulling out a pencil and writing in the margins or underlining phrases that I found deeper meaning in. This book has so much one can pull from... There are general, surface themes, and deeper ones. The reader has a world created for them to fall into, and is found feeling many differing emotions...

I felt grateful that I have been raised to think for myself and with knowledge of the world and the gospel. I felt sorrow for those who are close-minded, and anger for those who keep others trapped in a world providing no wisdom, creating ignorance and intolerance. I felt frustration over those who chose to remain in ignorance, until I realized that they might know there is any other way to live... The frustration remained, but it was now frustration over having no idea how to reach those people and help them grow. I felt love for my family and friends - and was in awe that those emotions could be void in someone. I felt extreme happiness in being able to see colors, feel emotion, believe in things and myself... I felt intense joy in that I could hear music.

I felt a reassurance in my soul that the gospel is true... To understand the joy, you must have felt pain. To embrace beauty, one must see the ugly. In simpler terms, you can not say something is good, if you don't know what bad is.

To explain a little (warning: this might be a bit confusing), Jonas is a boy from a very structured and conformed community that is selected to be the next "Giver" in the town - the town chooses each child's job for them at the age of 12. To be the "Giver" is a great honor cause people are chosen every few decades and no one other than the new and previous "Givers" known what exactly the job is... As Jonas begins his training with the old "Giver" he finds that his job is to receive all the world's past memories, emotions, etc. and store them within his self to provide wisdom to the town council. His eyes are thus open to the idea of agency, having emotions, and having the ability to think for one's self. He even begins to see colors and hear music - something the rest of the community can not do... If you have seen Pleasantville, it has some similarities...

Now, I feel like I just have to give you a taste of this amazing novel - I hope this will inspire those who have not read The Giver to read it and think about its many messages...

"But sir," Jonas suggested, "since you have so much power -"
The man corrected him. "Honor," he said firmly, "I have great honor. So will you. But you will find that that is not the same as power."
- Pg. 84

"I don't know why they even need a Receiver, then, if they never call upon him," Jonas commented.
"They need me. And you," The Giver said, but didn't explain. "They were reminded of that ten years ago."
- Pg. 103 (This reminded me of prayer - especially as the conversation continued...)

"My life is here."
"In this room?"
The Giver shook his head. He put his hands to his own face, to his chest. "No. Here, in my being. Where the memories are."
- Pg. 104

'Although he had through the memories learned about the pain of loss or loneliness, now he gained, too, an understanding of solitude and its joy.'
- Pg. 122

"I liked the feeling of love... I do understand that it wouldn't work very well. I can see it's a dangerous way to live."
"What do you mean?"
Jonas hesitated. He wasn't certain, really, what he had meant. He could feel that there was risk involved, though he wasn't sure how.
(LATER - Jonas with his parents...)
"Do you love me?"
There was an awkward silence for a moment. Then Father gave a gave a little chuckle, "Jonas. You of all people. Precision of language, please!"
"What do you mean?" Amusement was not at all what he had anticipated.
"Your Father means that you used a very generalized word, so meaningless that it's become almost obsolete," his mother explain carefully.
Jonas stared at them. Meaningless? He had never before felt anything as meaningful as the memory [of love].
- Pgs. 126 & 127

Imagine that when you told your parent, friend, boy/girlfriend, etc. that you loved them, they laughed at you. Imagine that they told you that the word love was meaningless... and that they liked being around you, but that was as deep as they could feel. Imagine a world where feelings and expression of emotions were non-existant... That would be my personal Hell.

'... He knew he couldn't go back to the world of feeling that he had lived in so long.'
- Pg. 131

How horrible would that be? A world that was completely void of all emotion... We joke around about it all of the time, but the truth of the matter is
, we live to feel. We live to love and have emotion... That is what we are designed for - and I would have it no other way.

'... Overwhelmed with feelings of loss. His childhood, his friendships, his carefree sense of secutiry - all of these things seemed to be slipping away. With his new, heightened feelings, he was overwhelmed by saddness at the way the others had laughed and shouted, playing at war. But he knew that they could not understand why, without the memories. he felt such love for [them]... But they could not feel it back, without the memories. And he could not give them the those...'
- Pg. 135

It is hard to move past, the past... Nonetheless, we are called to forge forward and press ahead in life. I just can not imagine living in a world where no one around me understood love, anger, fear, and real emotions. It hurts my hurt to even pretend...

I know that this book is an extreme example of conformity, the absence of agency, and lack of emotion, among other things. However, as we realize that these problems do exist for some people and in societies, we can strive to break the mold there and help ourselves and others to expand our viewpoints, let go of prejudice, and express ourselves positively.

These are just a few of the MANY things I thought about while re-reading The Giver, but I don't have time to write them all... I am just so grateful for good, mind-opening literature - something a little different too. I am grateful for things that make me realize how grateful I am for my agency and emotions... and my individuality. I hope that we can all be grateful for our gifts of agency - even though it's hard to make tough choices at times, individuality - even though people will scorn differences they fear, and emotions - though we, especially I fight to hide them at times from those around me. I feel full right now. I feel joy.

Song(S) of the day: Sticking with the themes of today's entry... There are two songs...
The first is Goo Goo Dolls, Iris. This is a song from when I was in sixth/seventh grade that I loved then, and even more now... There is a section in the lyrics where it says:

"And you can't fight the tears that ain't coming,
Or the moment of the truth in your lies.
When everything feels like the movies,
Yeah you bleed just to know you're alive.

And I don't want the world to see me,
'Cause I don't think that they'd understand.
When everything's made to be broken,
I just want you to know who I am.

The second song is an incredible connector to this piece of literature... read on, and listen on to: Please Bleed, by Ben Harper.... Here's a taste of that:

"Make me feel like a beggar
Make me feel like a thief
Make me feel like a battle, that cannot end in peace
Make me feel like running, as if I've lost my nerve
Make me feel like crying, tears I don't deserve

Is this really living sometimes it's hard to tell
Or is this a kind of gentler hell
Turn out the lights
And let me stare into your soul
I was born and bled for you old

Please bleed
So I know that you are real
So I know that you can feel
The damage that you've done
Who have I become
To myself I am none
I am none..."

The music video is a bit creepy, but very cool too. Go listen to these amazing artists!


P.S. This is a sidenote, but I watched the show Lie To Me tonight because I was still working out after American Idol was done... If you watched it, thoughts? I really think it is a clever program! I had to give it a few more episodes and see if it becomes a favorite.... :)


Mindy said...

Uhm ... The quotes from the book came out in that Windings (or whatever it's called font) and I cannot read it unless I copy it, paste it in Word and change the font. Just so you know. :) P.s. I love that book, too.

Team Carter said...

hmmm...i need a good book to read and i will have to hit that one up! at first i thought you were writing in wingdings because you were writing something secret. today on my way home from work i listened to "the ultimate candice mix" that you made me like 2 years ago. LOVE IT.