A good book

"I wish it need not have happened in my time," said Frodo.
"So do I," said Gandalf, "and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us."

 I often read several books all at the same time. And while I have long suspected that this is not the most practical way to read, for me, it seems to fit. While I have noticed on more than one occasion that a hint of synchronicity may guide many of the books that come my way, as I may one day find myself pondering on the migration of geese and the degree to which geese have played a role in early American life (Yes, seriously!) and few weeks later I'll find Michener's Chesapeake tucked firmly in my lap. 
Recently I have been struggling with how Machiavellian  everyday life seems to be. It appears to be the natural/anthropological way of being for much of the human race. Be it the ongoing high conflict/no resolution of my soon to be ex-wife, to that of those found in the workplace. None of this is new to me as I've been in the thick of it several times before. The politics, the intrigue, the double speak. All naturalness fades away in the game of defensiveness and one-upmanship.  I'm just not built for it, I declare. That I am ever forced to endure the mouths of these hungry ghosts makes me yearn for the dirk.
And thus, I was given the book, "The Pillars of the Earth" to read.
Set in 12th century England, the story presents a tapestry that speaks of the the struggle between peace and growth vs the love of power, wealth and status. The story tells of stonemason Tom Builder, who desires to build something of permanence and security for him and his family. Tom diligently seeks to fulfill a long held dream of building a cathedral. And we also meet Prior Phillip who strives to do the work of God by overseeing the building of the cathedral at Kingsbridge. It is not the mere building of a church but the building of a sustaining economy and a place of learning; where men can work and prosper and do what people do. Fall in love and get married, raise families, work hard and become part of a community. Phillip finds that this is no easy task as he is confronted by shifting political allegiances, diverse views of the church's mission and ongoing plotting by his arch rivals the Earl of Shiring, William Hamleigh and Bishop Bigod. Phillip finds himself as a man standing in a timber box on a dry forest floor. He has no idea where and when the next flame up will occur.
Characters in stories such as these serve as archetypes, providing varying subconscious levels and/or aspects of character to whom we may relate and be guided by. That is the reason for story telling. Many of us will relate to the life and experiences of the stonemason or the monk Prior Phillip. And some will perhaps see themselves or  see others in the slithering Bishop or ambitious Knights, Kings and merchants that color this tale.
I, like the stonemason Jack Builder, have worked hard to build; a family, a career, a sense of security and something - anything, that may cloud over the oft ignored truth of impermanence. I, like Prior Phillip, have sought fairness, justice, the mind of God - and have been unexpectedly thwarted on numerous occasions.
The reader and the read, wherein lies the difference?
Look around you! As I am fond of saying, "You can't buy this kind of entertainment". If your life was an open book would it be on the New York Times Best Seller List? Probably not. But your drama is your drama. Read it. Learn from it. Be mindful of it. Is your life the back of the cereal box that you scan over and over each morning and still you haven't a clue what it is saying? Then get up and fry yourself an egg! Get creative! Have a slice of melon and prosciutto on the side!
You know what? I laugh and I cry. Sometimes I get grouchy (some would say randy - wth?) and sometimes I am quiet and a little moody. Sometimes silly - sometimes wise.
And I would say that makes for a pretty good book!
And if you think that I'ma slow page turner? Well, now that's okay too,


Ann said…
Ah, Tom Bulider.... Well said.... :)
baroness radon said…
Not my favorite book (I'm not impressed with Ken Follett's actual writing syle) but it is ironic that I lugged this thing to China with me (while visiting old temples). When I finally read it at home, I think its sheer volume triggered the arthritis in my wrist. World Without End is on my shelf; I'm afraid to actually pick it up.
Tao1776 said…
Ha Sis! Something about the book's characters must resonate with me -I have been plowing through this book for a month now and its as though I return to it out of obligation, although no obligation exists. I agree, his writing style does little to spark my imagination -