― William Styron, Conversations with William Styron
I have always enjoyed living the lives of the characters in the many books I read each year. It is a safe way to travel to scary places without being scared. I can experience life as a doctor, lawyer, spy or a bank robber without the stress of actually working in those fields. There are those books, however, that make me want to read from afar. Eric Clapton's talent is undeniable, but like many musicians of his era his life was difficult. The wonderful thing about living in our country is our right to make choices. The difficult thing is that we must then live with those choices. His choices were often poorly thought out, and his autobiography did not leave me wanting to live even a week of his life. It was interesting though, and it helped me to understand how those early years and choices do make a difference in our lives.
The choices that we make as adults are just as difficult and frightening as those we make in our youth. In my teaching years, I loved my lessons on Emerson and Thoreau. Both of them had very interesting beliefs, and I wanted my students to appreciate them. In Self-Reliance, Emerson asks individuals to value their own thoughts and opinions above those of other people, society and religion. I would tell my students that as long as they truly believed something was right, then it was right for them...but it had to be something that they believed was right, not something that they wanted to be right. If we hang on to those values and turn away from other influences, then we will all live happier and more productive lives.
I realize that not everyone has the same values, but it would seem that there should be some consistencies. That is why I have trouble understanding the Nazi regime and their following of Hitler. I know that the soldiers were following orders, but in the end, each and every one of them made a choice to follow his lead. There are many books, fiction and non fiction, that center around that time. The Last Passenger is a novel about a haunted Nazi cruise ship that was discovered adrift in 1939 with one passenger aboard, a baby boy. Not being a fan of ghost stories, I almost passed this book up, and I am glad I decided to read it. It is definitely a thought provoking book.
On a brighter note, I am happily looking forward to next week. My son, Michael and my nephew, Jonathan will be coming down for a few days so we can all celebrate the wedding of my beautiful niece, Rebecca. The entire family being together for these joyous events are the happiest times of my life. They help assure me that my choices were the correct ones, because they led me to a life that is perfect for me.
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