Book reflection: The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton 

Reading should always retain its pleasure therefore I feel that writing down my thoughts on books that I have just finished reading, shouldn’t be such a chore, not too showy or carefully planned and instead be authentic. As important as this challenge is – to reflect on every book I read this year by writing down the experience of reading it on this blog – I have made it a point of removing any sense of urgency or pressure on myself before writing and while writing. It should be laid back and enjoyable. I intend to write my thoughts down freely, as best as I can without aspiring to some form of success or general approval. 
“The House of Mirth” by Edith Wharton is one of the first American classic novel that I have ever read and I am really excited for the many more to come like the works of Scott Fitzgerald and Mark Twain. In the first half of ‘The House of Mirth”, I have to admit finding the language a bit of a challenge. The sentences were complex; there were just so many things happening in one sentence. However once I got the hook of the language, I gripped on tightly to the storyline and all of a sudden I was comfortably riding through the story.

Despite the complex and foreign language I found this book to be an elegantly written book. I enjoyed the storyline, it’s depth, the conversations between characters and very importantly for the honest telling of Miss Lilly Barts’s fate. Her slow yet painful demise that was preconditioned especially being born to wealth and then stripped away of it. The story documents her strugle to establish her place in the world, alone, after the very loss of wealth she was born into with its teachings and its comforts – takes away her parents dignity and inevitably their lives too. 

A Beautiful & Restless Young Woman

This is a book based on the life of a young woman who is strikingly beautiful and intelligent. People admired greatly for her beauty and the charming Mr Lawrence Selden once called her a lovely “spectacle” to watch. 

There was this huge ball that happened and she happened to be one of the star performers and everyone, both men and women stood in awe of her in the dress she wore which accentuated her figure well. She could probably be the Marilyn Monroe of those days. Everyone was in awe of her. 

Lilly was of an age where she is young enough to remain comfortably unmarried for awhile but a bit old enough to start hearing the sound of the clock ticking through constant questions from those around her on her marital status and plans. Lilly being aware of the great power of her beauty, skillfully tries to use it to her advantage. So she set out at the begining of the book with a great iintention of marrying a rich man in order to restore wealth back into her life and elevate her social standing. 

Keeping up with the affluent people and their lifestyle

 Being born into a wealthy family, strong ideologies about wealth were firmly instilled within her by her mother. Her mother loathed poverty and dinginess that she tried her best  to avoid less fortunate relatives who were living such contented lives. She would sneer at the food that they eat and that was presented to them on their visit, the cutleries that they used and all that is lacking in the upkeeping of their houses. 

The most important thing that Lilly has been taught to grip firmly to is material wealth, so when her father over a lunch confesses that they were going to loose it all, one can imagine the great shame, disgust, anxiety and pain that engulfed them. Being critically dependent on wealth, having associations with people who are all wealthy, there appeared to be no way out but a viciously consuming death by heartbreak. 

When her parents both died soon afterwards, Lilly was left with no inheritance at all and she was taken in by her Aunt – Mrs Peniston – a widow living alone with considerable fortune at her disposal. 

A social life is very important for any young woman, they have to stay engaged and keep up social appearances. Lilly has a circle of friends who are all from established affluent families. Most of them are happily married to richer husbands and they spend their days going on expensive trips, splurging on dresses, jewellery and entertaining at large country houses. 

Lilly kept herself busy by attending to invitations from friends. She was given allowance by her Aunt but the sum couldn’t keep up with her expenses. One of the games that they played during those large outings with friends was Bridge. In case you are not familiar with it, Bridge is a game where you play cards for money; you play your cards right and you win money, else you loose money. 

On one such Bridge game Lilly lost a lot of money leaving her in a very fragile and desperate state. The book talks about her financial struggle detail and its remarkable how she was able to keep it together and maintain appearances during times of great obscurity. It also led her to taking financial help from an unhappy husband of one of her friends which was her biggest mistake. She became dependent on her friends – without her friends knowing of course – and she relied on their generosity. 

Fragile reputation of an un-wed young woman

In any society, image is very important to a young woman. One should carefully maintain it, until like a flower it catches a suitable eye and is cut from the field and into a proper home as a decoration – as is the case of the world that Lilly Bart exists in. Women after marriage act as highly decorated piece of art and spend their days entertaining and they are highly industrious and organised in running a very active social life. 

Society often creates lofty ideals and restrictive social standards that makes it hard for people and this is especially true in the case of women. I believe that this may stem from people’s need to be distinct and elevated above everyone else, a marked difference needs to exist or else it will be easier for all of us to be equal. Hard to maintain and unfair ideals are created so that people who do get to achieve them are exulted and marked out as distinct and superior and those who falter in achieving it, are immediately rebuked and cast out of the circle. 

Lilly Bart being beautiful and smart made men naturally gravitate towards her but it was a scandal involving unwanted interaction and attention from few men that she wasn’t able to succesfully marry someone suitable. Eventhough those claims against her were untrue, she couldn’t justify herself because she was an independent young woman, defenseless and obscure. 

Boys, Men and the one Gentleman 

There were only 2 eligible bachelor’s that came into Lilly’s life; the rich yet boring heir to a large fortune Mr Percy Gryce and the extremely charming yet of a simple fortune Mr Lawrence Selden. 

The other suitors came into her life by circumstances and were all out to get something out of Lilly’s natural wealth and her obscure situation. She didnt like them much but out of courtesy she had to entertain them and they were all men of considerable fortune. There were 3 of them to be exact. There was Mr Rosedale; the Jewish businessman who was consistently rising up the social ladder and needed Lilly to seal his standing in society. Then there was the 2 unhappily married men who depended greatly on Lilly’s attention and craved her affection. It was with the 2 married men that things went wrong eventhough nothing really happened between. 

The thing is nothing happened with all the men hence the accusations being unfounded. In the book, generally, there was a lot of intimate conversation, very colourful and passionate however it didn’t relate to physical intimacy, not even a kiss. 

The mention of sex or the thought of it was far off. The other ladies in the book had affairs but the way it was packaged and presented in the book is some elegant and passionate interaction between an older woman with a young impressionable man and enjoying each others company by reading poems and the young men were potrayed as something like a Chiuwawa being toted around without any detailed explanation of what’s going on. 

Defeated: The Painful Fall from Grace

As she was taught Lilly loathed a dingy lifestyle however to avoid it herself she would have to get married. Single women such as characters Getrude Farish and Grace Stepney often live very solitary lifestyles in small apartments. They were uninvited into occasions and gatherings of the affluent social circles eventhough they are related to those in it. They weren’t included, and it’s not because people disliked them but simply because they were insignificant and irrelevant. Money is everything, without it, one is nothing and it could be very difficult for a single woman without a significant inherited fortune. Lilly’s fear was that she would become one of them and it would have been avoided if it was not for scandal with a few men and the altercation with the unfaithful and richly married Mrs Dorset. 

It was Getrude Farish who was poor yet had a huge heart that took her in and cared for her when all her friends abandoned her. But things only seemed to worsen for, she tries to adjust but her predicament, atleast what she thought it to be, grew larger by the day and the shadows eventually consumed her. She was a gold fish not conditioned to live in the natural wild world. 

I felt really bad by the end of the book, it felt so real to me and as we read more about Lilly we feel more endeared towards her. She was simply a lost soul fighting her way alone in that cold world that she existed in. Lawrence Selden was the love of her life and they were 2 equals who finally realised each others importance yet it was too late. It had a tragic ending. It was a good read and I suggest you pick it up, read it and let me know what you think about it or if you have read it feel free to let me know how you found it. 


A horrible week in review 

It’s been a really horrible week. Today I thought I was going to float off home in the afternoon, happy that the day progressed well instead I was victimized by a verbal assault from one of my co-workers husband who is also an operator for a courier company that picks parcels from us. He was wrong, and I was right but I acted cooly, not trying to make a scene, I mean it’s my lovely work colleagues beloved arrogant husband, I didn’t want to go full gear, call him a ‘big pile of sh##’ and threaten to call his boss (who is a very lovely man) and get him fired. Oh, but it was really awkward, we would rather not have a further discussion about it. 

I love people but then some people can be extremely rude and that’s what I have had to endure for the whole week. I am thinking about having to quit this job and this town and it’s people altogether but then it’s my family that keeps me back here. I feel innately that I am at a dead end here and I have to go through with everything. I am not really stressed out, I choose not to let it affect me that much but it’s difficult, I cant be totally unaffected or disengaged from what I have to endure for like 9 hours in a day – okay not really for 9 hours, but the eruptions happens within those 9 hours and I never know what’s lurking beneath the ground ready to explode.

It’s like a vast landscape filled with landmines and I am just wandering through it in search of the promised land or signs that I am almost there. Very desperately I am wandering around, thirsty, without food and almost passing out and its so bad that it is very difficult to remain hopeful. I have been reading ‘The Secret’ by Rhonda Bryne and life is not magically surprising me as I condition my thoughts to be for. Apparently it seems like it isn’t manifesting correctly and instead the opposite happened this week; I thought good thoughts bad situations and things stormed in like a cyclone without warning. I have been used as a scape goat and hated upon, I am the ultimate young and defenseless, such an easy target, situated right there in the front line and fired upon. Singing “Survivor” by Destinys Child doesn’t even work. But after writing for awhile airing my concerns, I do feel like a “Survivor”.

In the few minutes that I took out to check my social media, I received some lovely positive feedback that really changed my whole entire state of being. Current problems have been devalued to insignificance as I have gained perspective of the bigger picture and I am seeing things from a different angle. This is not everything in my life, it’s a small relevant part however these rude, mean people are irrelevant to my life and my vision. 

I guess this got to be the universe going – (ding dong🎵) “Sorry for the late delivery but here is your package of goodness and keep on thinking those good thoughts. Regards, From the great big loving Universe” A little late but always on time. Good night and thanks for reading my blog.

Advice for Miss Jane on her looming deserved moment of vitality and relevance

One day soon Miss Jane everyone else will be subdued and your life will be greatly renewed. You will earn your vitality and they will have exhausted theirs. Your life will be interesting and painfully envied by those who feel great times and opportunities foregone. When that moment comes you shouldn’t let yourself be held back by the melancholic faces, have no shame and guilt, for we all are granted an equal chance of courting the moment of great relevance and happiness. Some have it earlier while others have it latter but when it sets its fortunate eyes on you; bask in its warmth, dance with it wholeheartedly however avoid trying to prolong it for like everything else, those moment are intended to pass and turned to dust.

On Owning and Creating 

After I get a full sense of satisfaction and usefulness from the current things that I own – exhaustingly using it, in all possible ways – than maybe I shall consider accruing other things. If I can make things happen with these little simple things that I own, than I shall have no urgent need for other plain superficial things. I shall not be quantified but I shall work on being confident and qualified. The need to own, postponing life until we own things is a distraction from the great possibilities of all that can be derived from the current things that we are blessed with. I have enough and I am more than enough.

Ego aside, I will simply create because I have this innate sense of wonder that is childlike and believing in all the possibilities. Like the Potter who moulds clay into an elegant pot, engrossed deeply in the activity and being fully engaged in the moment, wandering into the blooming field of spiritual consciousness. 

The fulfillment comes from being able to do something incredible with our very own mortal hands. The heart becomes connected with the hand and together they create warm trails of magic, emanating warm flowery scents. 

Can I write? Should I write? Am I good enough as a writer, a creator or an artist? 

( ….. Silence …. ) 

Think no question, have no answer. 

Simply put pen to paper and keep on writing, be carried the long distance by the rythm of surging thoughts pulsating through our heart and chanelling itself through to our hands, and onto that pen and then flowing in gentle crispy currents onto that paper.

The tools and materials I commit myself to using is drawn from the earth I exist in, always present abundantly around me. It is simple, however what I can create out of it is a work of Art – complicated, unique and thought provoking. It can also be practical with capability of enhancing someone elses life. 

There will always be enough things to write about or create. It’s endless because we continue believing in endless possibilities. Also, very importantly, lets be honest as much as we are earnest. Write as honest as possible so that the story goes on, even after THE END.

‘Elegance of the Hedgehog’ by Muriel Burbery

I finished reading ‘ The Elegance of The Hedgehog’ by Muriel Burbery this afternoon. It was a very dense yet beautiful book in its own special way. The story revolves around a high class Parisian Apartment Building; 7 Rue De Granelle, where all the rich Parisian families live. Well that’s where the 2 characters live and they observe and reflect on the world from there, the book actually documents the deep thoughts of the 2 narrator’s. The 1st narrator is the 54 year old Concierge at 7 Rue De Granelle – Renee, and the second narrator is 12 year old Paloma Jose who is contemplating suicide and is living out her last few days thinking and writing down profound thoughts about the ‘movement of the world’ in her journal.

They are both very intelligent individuals and are also both struggling, fighting some internal demons uniquely their own. They are both reclusive, they spend a lot of their time immersed in inteligent personal engagements like reading of watching culturally significant and thought provoking movies. Their tastes in literature, music, movies and other media is very refined and thus their minds compared to everybody around them is very refined and elevated. However due to their reclusive nature, nobody recognizes their elevated mind and also nobody would pay attention because they are busy with their own ‘monotonous’ lives.

Renee or Maddame Michele strugles with the very defined sense of class that exists. She is of a lower class, she accepts that she is very unattractive, she is poor, lonely and a widow. She works very hard to conceal her intelligence for fear of being judged and also coming out as suspicious by the rich residents of 7 Rue De Granelle. So throughout the book we see her accepting her fate and living through it and then some turn of events changes that for her. This is where ‘The Secret’ comes in, whatever thoughts you put out into the Universe, you end up receiving. 

Paloma Jose, the 12 year old strugles with her family. Her sister is very pretentious and irritating, she is highly dramatic with a serious case of OCD. Her father is a government minister and her mother an educated woman however complicated and depressed. She spends most of her time visiting the Psychiatrist and tending to her houseplants. She loaths them and thinks that all they do is very futile.

These 2 main narrators really had some deep thoughts and when I say deep I mean ‘ Can you keep up’ deep sort of thoughts. It’s basically them juggling and meditating on life. One event is dissected from different angles and a variety of emotions comes and goes as we do when we are deeply thinking of something. It’s basically like their journal and like how a journal is written; it’s a series of thoughts reckless thrown into paper in the natural exact order that it happens and we validate those thoughts by backing it up with words and ideas of other great thinkers, artists and leaders who’s point of view we respect and are influenced by. That’s what happened in this book and it was difficult to keep up with, at times frustrating – like I was thinking to myself, ‘ Oh just get out of your seats and run outside for awhile, it might do you some good.’

I learnt that if you feel like an island of your own  in terms of your interests areas, you should reach out and try to find others who have similar tastes as you. You can do that through Social Media. It’s always a good thing to find others who we can have very engaging and stimulating conversations with. I became more interested in reading Tolstoys – Anna Karenina after reading this book. I know how significant it is in the world of literature but I havent read it. But I have watched the movie and I loved it, I love the great underlying theme in it and I related to it. Renee talks about Levin in the book, how he was running his scythe in the wheat fields under the hot sun and his hand was strained and it ached and all that discomfort vanished after having repeated the task for awhile. For me that was significant, it highlighted that after discomfort is endured for quite awhile, we can find a little bit of peace and serenity. Or we can become as fluid and have that elegant essence of a river. Also this book renewed my love for Cats and Japan. Like I wanna learn about Japan, the culture, the places, the people, the art and the history. It brough my childhood Japan fascination back. I am also even planing on having myself a gold fish and a Bonsai tree like I always dreamed of having. 

This book shows that we should never judge people by their occupation or how they live. People can be more complicated then they seem to be. It also taugt ne that it is very important for us to hold our fort of intelligence and passion even when we are in the most unlikely of places that may seem like it’s not conducive for that sort of thinking, that passion or that interest to grow. It’s all in the mind, our life is majority of the time determined by our ‘state of mind’, so what’s very crucial is that we control, grow and preserve that state of mind. You are worth it, I am worth it, we are all worth it. 

Thanks for reading ☺

Overcoming the fear of them 

Grow up and grow out of that fear. Grow out of that idea that you were done wrong by them and that they have some sort of superiority over you; making you embarrassed, ashamed and running for cover. Uproot that belief from within you that they are the centre of the universe and you are a biggest failure for being cast out of their universe. 

You are more than that. The fact that you are a dreamer means that you are inteligent, talented, unique and you have a great deal to contribute to the whole wide world. Maybe you weren’t the ideal person for them and their small mediocre minds but then so what, it really doesnt matter, because it is fish shit in comparison to all the great things that is yet to be unleased from deep within you. Believe in yourself and believe in other dreamers potential too. Respect yourself and respect the ones that love and respect you too. Devote your time, love and energy to your tribe instead of being made to feel inferior from those who left an ugly dent on your life. 

Next time you walk past them, make sure they see you. Show them elegance and flow past them like a river. Let them know that you are on your way. Cheer up and celebrate for you are always at the absolute loving centre of this Universe. 

Looking Down and Just Creating

We need to look down more and just do the work. Look around less, instead consistently create something of value. Exist more in our own world and create magic out of the air and the surroundings in that world. Draw more from deep within us, despite all the back aches, continue drawing until it is overflowing.