Fiction

30 Days, 30 Books That Shaped My Life – Day 30 NaNoWriMo

ColorPurpleWow! I made it to day 30 of this challenge. I didn’t miss a day (some of my posts were at different times, but I managed to get all of them… except for today’s post that I’m writing now). I had a couple goals this month: One was to finish my next novel; that didn’t happen. But forcing myself to adhere to this challenge—to think about literature/books in a way I really haven’t in a very long time—was very therapeutic during a month that began in the wake of the devastation wrought by Hurricane Sandy and ends in the wake of the devastation wrought by an individual who I’ll coyly call, “Hurricane Lupo.”

Before HL came along to tear things assunder (this was two days ago, incidentally), I had already decided what my final Book that Shaped My Life was going to be. It was either with great foresight (unlikely) or just my typical bad luck at picking men (likely) that my 30th book is a masterful story about an abusive man and his beaten down wife who manages to escape him and reinvent herself late in life. My final book in the 30 Books That Shaped My Life series is Alice Walker’s The Color Purple.

I remember exactly why this book shaped my life. It was recommended to me by my maternal grandmother,  who died three years ago this coming month. She was an atypical woman, who liked her vodka to her dying days, but also was beaten down (and just plain beaten) by men who should have been kinder to her. She was truly incredible, being a radio personality in her younger years and becoming an ordained minister in her later ones. She recommended this book to me when I was fairly young (mid-teens, perhaps?). My grandmother told me that this book would make me believe in God. In fact, the lesson I got regarding God was that if It exists, It’s totally okay with lesbians. (I’m not sure if that whir I hear is a plane overhead on its way to landing at JFK or my grandmother spinning in her grave!)

Seriously though, The Color Purple rewards the broken person who doesn’t give up. It truly does deliver on Jesus’ promise, “But the one who endures to the end will be saved.” (Mat. 24:13) I’m not big on the scripture, but I feel that this passage is the same that is promised in so many religions: Don’t give up; it gets better. I haven’t decided if it gets better, but I am not giving up. All the shitty men (sorry, I know there are good guys out there: I hope my son will grow to join your ranks) won’t keep me from fighting to free myself from pain and tyranny. No matter how worthless I may feel at any given moment in time, I can endure. In spite of my tendency to attract bad people into my life (and be attracted to them in return), my inherent lack of faith is rattled when I recall Ms. Walker’s words:

Unbelief is a terrible thing. And so is the hurt we cause others unknowingly. Pray for us.

My grandmother also once told me that if you can find someone who loves you more than you love him/her, then you will be very lucky in love. I haven’t quite yet given up on the fantasy of finding someone who will love me more than I do in return, but that’s a very different kind of endurance to weather.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this month’s series. I’ll plan another soon (only four months have 30 days, a curiosity to ponder a different day).  Bless you for reading (and following)!

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