Monday, October 15, 2012

Some Books Are Better on the Shelf

So, my sister sent me this link to Darwin Deez's Bad Day a bit ago when I was in the throws in feeling angry about my most recent relationship ending.  While I am sometimes uncomfortable with being angry with a person who has left me in a relationship, it still surprises me how much others can feel angry for me.  It kind of comes as a relief in being angry myself.  It's normal.  It's okay.

So the song starts with, "I hope that the last page of your 800-page novel is missing."

No, sometimes actually finishing a book can be downright disappointing, too.

The book that had been on my shelf for several years that I bought as a vacation beach read is called Holy Cow by Sarah Macdonald.  It is an autobiography of sorts where a woman in her thirties from Australia revisits India for a gamble on love and takes a spiritual journey.  This helps her to make sense of the world, to figure out what is truly important and to learn more about herself.

It caught my eye while walking around the book store.  Funny thing is that I started reading it on a beach vacation the summer before A~ and I were just starting to try to conceive a baby.  The first chapter or so was good, but I was distracted with wanting to read Harry Potter, too.  Harry Potter won.

The vacation ended and the book returned to my shelf.  There it sat, replaced with reading material about infertility, mending relationships and soon grad school required reading.  I wanted to read it.  But after the fallout of my divorce, I hesitated because it reminded me of the last happy vacation I had with him.

Next I began my relationship with RJ, and I didn't feel like tainting my happy thoughts with sad thoughts of reminders of my past relationship.  I was trying to move forward.  Plus, I was still busy with grad school readings.

Then when RJ ended the relationship and grad school was done, I felt that I had no more excuses.  I wanted to read the book to be done with it.  Maybe it would surprise me or maybe I could justify getting rid of it because giving away a book I purchased and hadn't read seemed like such a waste.  It became my book to read on the bus going to and from my summer internship job.  Perfect!

As I read the book, it was interesting to read how the main character had to learn how to let go of so much.  She faced herself and her broken preconceived notions about life.  She embraced life as it was and found the good in people.  She changed her perception.  The people and places had not changed, but she changed the lens that she viewed them.  She found a certain peace, acceptance and happiness.  It also touched on the importance of balance in a relationship and not to lose oneself--having personal grounding and independence while flexibly creating a life together with someone else.

Sounds good right?

(Spoiler Alert)

As I was reading the second to the last paragraph of the book, the author tidies up by writing about what she has learned from each religious group she meaningfully encountered in India.  She reflects on what she learned before returning home.  Good, strong woman stuff.

Then, the very last paragraph washes it all away.

Basically, the author goes onto say that all of that stuff really doesn't matter because she is with child that she and her husband conceived before leaving India (mean while most of the story is spent with the couple spending nearly all of their time apart because of his job assignment).  The baby is special because it will remind her of the sacrifices and growth during her two years of life in India, but that having a baby is where the real meaning in life can be found. 

So, diluted enlightenment and I'm better than you because I can get knocked up by my husband.

I closed the book with disappointment.  Really?  The last paragraph did not seem relevant to the story.  They were never trying to have a kid.  What happened to the personal grounding and finding happiness and contentment within yourself?  What happened to realizing that a relationship is fragile and when one person's career dominates the relationship, it can hurt it when it is at the expense of that relationship?  What happened to two people who realize that their life together is more important than if they have career success without that special person to share it?  Fine that the baby will remind you of your time in India and that the conception was special.  But, to imply that the spiritual journey didn't really matter because being a mother supersedes it?  Really?

Then, I think back to all of the times that I started reading the book or picked it up and thought about reading it.  It would have been far worse timing.  It may have been chucked into the ocean.

This is not helping me to be okay with being in the temporary* space of not having a baby at the moment.

(*Working on being happy and while being open to find a man first, while holding onto hope for possibility.)

Feel free to make book recommendations.  I could use them.  I live by a pool.


  1. What a stupid, stupid ending. Totally irrelevant to the rest of the story. Motherhood doesn't supercede personal "wholeness" much as we like to believe it, kids, nor husbands, can make us "whole." We have to already BE whole and then we can share our overflow what with others. It reminds me of a flight attendant telling you to put your OWN oxygen mask on FIRST, before putting one on your child. You have to take care of yourself before you can take care of anyone else.