Over Christmas break I read some books.
You have no idea how exciting it was to type that sentence. Yes, I technically read books all the time, I am technically employed to read books. But so often they are not the books I would choose to read, or I am forced to not only read them, but to tear through them quickly and then produce some profound something on them. I’m not complaining because seriously, grad school is a pretty sweet setup. But sometimes, I miss reading books just for the joy of reading them.
Over the past month I finished Gopnik’s Paris to the Moon that I started last Christmas, charged through Wilson’s Notes from the Tilt-a-Whirl, started Helprin’s In Sunlight and Shadow, and finally sat down and read John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars. Everyone has been talking about that last one for over a year, but as it was checked out at every single library all of the time, I finally just begged for it for Christmas and have book-loving in-laws that came through. To my surprise, the book was just good. I think that a childhood of reading Lurlene McDaniel books where adolescents are always finding love in the midst of terminal illness made me think it slightly less original than some(are those books still around by the way?), but it was still good. A couple awesome standout lines, some tender moments, and a nice, slightly unpredictable ending. Not the book that everyone hyped it up to be, but good.
But then I read the thirty pages of interview with the author in the back of my edition and it totally changed everything and then I had the sensation that the main character describes as being “convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together again unless and until all living humans read this book.” What I loved was his philosophy of fiction that so perfectly manifested itself in the book. He emphasizes over and over that what he wanted to do was reclaim the power of ordinary existence and show that ordinary, unheroic life is the meaningful and beautiful. And he succeeded, elevating my view of the whole book from “good” to “perfect,” in that it fully fulfilled what he set out to do.
I’ve been thinking lately, as I do every so often, about what purpose I want this blog to fulfill. It used to be just for my family to see random things in my life that they miss because they are far away. As it has grown a little, it still does that, but I also want the words to matter in a more general way. I don’t want to just spout dribble into cyberspace. That seems such a waste of energy and a shameful misuse of language.
There are lots of blogs across the Internet that serve to inspire you. They share so much inspiration of what to buy, do, eat, etc. that sometimes I feel exhausted reading them because it seems that so much money and work must be exerted to re-craft my ordinary life into an inspired one. There are also blogs out there that teach you to do something worthwhile, but I have so few skills that can be translated into text. (Conversely, if you are ever in DC and want to learn how to plunge a toilet, I tell you – I can plunge anything.) There are blogs that challenge you, judge you, guide you, but that just seems like a tall order. There are political blogs, fashion blogs, cultural blogs, but I get bored with one niche. I’m not attacking any of these bloggers – all of these things serve a very real purpose and I’m glad they are there. I’m just saying that I can’t be one of them.
Instead, I’ve decided that what I want is for this blog to encourage you. Where you are. In the life you are living. With whatever you have. I want it to applaud the absolutely ordinary parts of everyday life and show that they can be extraordinary, be worthwhile, and be beautiful, by very nature of being ordinary. I want it to be a little corner of the Internet that makes you feel a little better about whatever little corner of this world you are in. Some beautifully ordinary moments from the past couple weeks.