I put this under book studies. But, I’m not going to get into the school type massacre of literature. What I am going to do is mention a book. I’m not going to do that at the start though. There’s something that I’ve been mulling over for the last month or so and the book provided some insight.
Over quite a period of time leading up to Andrea’s surgery, quite a few people asked some variation of how I felt about it. My initial reaction to the question (I can’t remember if someone asked me or if the question related through Andrea) was that I thought it was an odd sort of question. I wasn’t the person who was having the surgery and going to have to go through the recovery. I hadn’t really stopped to think about it in terms of anyone other than her. At one point (possibly the weekend before), she said, well, ‘we really haven’t talked about it’ (how I felt about the surgery).
I summed it up by saying, ‘If the choice I have is the surgery or losing you, it’s not a difficult choice to make.’ Excepting that I did not look forward to seeing Andrea going through more surgery and recovery, it was an easy choice for me to support whatever she decided to do. Sometimes I dream big and have very high aspirations, but when it comes down to brass tacks I don’t waste alot of time wishing and pining for choices that I don’t have. And I hope that I can say all of that without it sounding like it was directed at the people who asked. IMO, the people who asked obviously cared. What trying to articulate my thoughts on the issue of choices brought to mind was the moral:
Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% what you do about it.
We all have problems and issues that crop up in life. Probably the issues here are radically different from most in the third world. For some here, when their mp3 player (or some other gadget) fails it’s a serious problem. There are millions (if not a billion) people on this planet who have never held an electronic device. Years ago, I helped my father with organizing some geneological data. Within the last 200 years, in my ancestry, there was a couple who had 10 children. Only 4 survived to adulthood. It’s a sobering thought. If I can rephrase,
Life isn’t what happens to you. It’s what you do.
If you played the lottery and won, that doesn’t dictate what happens next. That may give you more choices. But, really, what you choose to do from that point is life.
What I’ve noticed is that there seems to be two camps in our society with people spread across the spectrum between. One camp is the ‘life is what you do’ camp and the other is the ‘life is what happens to you’ camp. For a long time I wondered whether the ‘life is what happens to you’ camp was a product of the school system where things are largely set up to be things that happen to you. In watching (and reading) Pride & Prejudice, I realized that was not the case. I’ve concluded that Jane Austen was a keen observer of human behaviour and social interaction. I think she did an incredible job of describing the character of both camps.
A snippet of the exchange between Mr. Darcy and Mr. Gardiner was, ‘It was through my mistake…and so the remedy must be… The responsibility is mine, I must have it.’ It’s very much a statement of what I did and what I’m going to do. No where in the conversation does Mr. Darcy even hint at ‘what happened to him’.
In contrast, throughout the book (and hence the movie), Mrs. Bennett focuses solely on what happens to her both directly and indirectly. At no point in her conversation does she talk in terms of what she’s done or doing. In the miniseries version, I found the character somewhat overplayed. But, I think being overplayed really accentuated the fact that the character was obsessed with making the right things happen (to her or some other character).
I’ve spent quite a while writing this and I almost forgot the closing thoughts I had in mind. One of those is that whether or not systemized education has increased the commonality of the character flaw, it probably has existed throughout time. Secondly, if you haven’t read the book and/or watched the movie it is well worth watching. If you are going to do both, I would suggest watching the movie first. Finally, I suppose I’ve made it fairly clear which of the two camps I feel would be a better choice to gravitate to. So, I’m not going to restate that here.