Scout Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Gods, this is going to be a sappy one…
It’s the kind of sentence that comes right out of left field, right from the author rather than the character. Lulled into a false sense of security by Scout’s oft-inane stream of consciousness and then blam, the kind of phrase that makes you stop and think.
And then check your pulse. OK, still beating; still breathing, but stymied. And then your entire world-view shifts with a twang and you suddenly find yourself looking at your entire life in fits and spurts, frame after frame, chronology-be-damned — it’s not being re-written but rather shifted. Girls that I’ve loved past and present; places visited, visions seen; choices made, choices ignored, choices fumbled.
I catch myself when I realise I’m growing a little dizzy. Time to put the book down and go for a walk.
It’s cold outside. Perfect for the dissipation of excess thoughts and heat. I’m sizzling up. Why do some memories cause such exothermic reactions? Sweaty palms to my temples do nothing; I’ll just have to weather it out. Into the dark cool I tread, with autumn rustling invisibly all around I walk.
Eventually it settles downs. I had forgotten just how intensive epiphanies could be or how drained and dessicated they can leave you.
I don’t quite know what Harper Lee’s trying to tell me, but she’s certainly made me think. Perhaps it’s a modern-day retelling of the ancient idiom ‘can’t see the forest for the trees’? Is she trying to say that I should cherish everything I’ve ever had, or every person I’ve met and fallen in or out of love with? That I’m ultimately mortal and should live every day as if it’s my last?
Surely, if nothing else, she — Scout, or Harper Lee — is telling me to appreciate what I’ve got.
I’m only about a quarter way through the book and I can already tell it’s one of those books that, in the best way possible, and just like the lives of most people on this fair planet, goes absolutely nowhere. I think Harper Lee had a series of epiphanies, maybe in childhood but more likely as an adult, and now wants me to take a spin on her autobiographical carnival ride. I’m going to have to keep an eye out for all the juicy little titbits that she’s left for me along the way.