Thursday, February 28, 2008

"Wouldn't it be fun if all the castles in the air which we make could come true and we could live in them?" ~Jo March


I am in a Norman Rockwell stage. I've been spending time looking through a huge book of his work, and was delighted to find his Louisa May Alcott series. The above picture is, simply, "Jo March in the Attic".
I love "Little Women". I remember how thrilling it was to discover that there were other books after it..."Little Men", "Jo's Boys", etc....but nothing ever replaced that original story of four sisters in my esteem.
This painting makes me smile because it reminds me of how desperately I wanted to be Jo March - feisty and brave, locked away in some special spot reserved for writing and imagining the rest of the world. (I think that a part of me could very well turn into a hermit, lost in an internal world. This may be the reason God decided I needed a family so early. So that I couldn't become the proverbial crazy cat lady. [at least not yet.]) When Jo finally got those stories published, but couldn't be proud of them, I was so torn for her - wanting her success to be truly admirable, for her to be happy with it...and then there's her book at the end, after the grief of losing Beth....I wanted to write something like that, too. Something with meaning, something special. Something to be proud of.
Thinking about "Little Women" takes me back to that wonderful phase of childhood...that time when I could just lie around and devour books by the pile. I had this great reading and diary-writing spot -- not in an attic like Jo, but outside on this big wooden swing in a corner of our yard. It was shaded by some wild trees covered in kudzu and angled so that I didn't feel exposed to the world. I named it something like 'Windy Hill.' I had a great penchant for naming places after L.M. Montgomery came into my brain. I also wrote out my diary entries to 'Kitty' for a few years after reading Anne Frank. I was, um, quite an impressionable kid, apparently.
But maybe it was more than that - I think, by trying to imitate these great people and characters, I was attempting to bring some of their magic into my life. Because that's what great books still do for me - they remind me that even the ordinary moments can be sacred...they make me want to have purpose and to aspire for greatness. They make me look at the daily within the larger picture...and to know that it's the scenes - the dialogue, the day to day action - that make up an entire life. So to infuse the knowledge that it all counts, even the small stuff, for the greater meaning of my life...it makes a difference in how I look at this house with the toys from scattered on the floor, the stray cat stretched out asleep on the back porch, the cell phone ringing in the next room.
The fact that there are books in this world that can make someone savor life more...that bring on a smile....it feels like such an extravagant gift!

8 comments:

runninghome said...

Where'd you find this picture? I love it!

heather said...

Jo March is my second favorite character (the first being Anne of Green Gables). And I agree--I want to be these characters because I want their magic.
I live in my own little corner in my own little chair where I can be whoever I want to be. It's a nice life if you can get it.
(Apparently today's my Broadway day.)
We should make up some club, a what character do you want to be club. Ooh! That gives me an idea. I just may do that.

Sarah said...

Linked over from Heather's blog and, I must say, I think I've always BEEN Jo March. There are a lot of people I'd like to be but she seems like the only and I've felt like I already am...I love your talk about the magic...yes, let's definitely take some magic from the books we love.

Luisa Perkins said...

I completely identify with this post! Well written, as always.

Amy Jane (Untangling Tales) said...

Thanks for this.

It seems I've been almost afraid to read novels lately. I feel so uneasy about stealing that time from my family I'm not ready to risk my guilt on something I don't *know* will be worth it.

But then I feel like I'm going through something like anorexia-- and it is a sort of neurotic choosing not to be hungry, all in the name of of being in control.

Not sure yet if it's equally unhealthy.

I, too, like how you call that intangible something "magic." It's such a good word.

Miladysa said...

I think that everyone who has read Little Women has been inspired in some way and continues to dream today :-D

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