Essay inspired by The Paris Wife by Paula McLain

Posted August 22, 2013 in Essay / 0 Comments

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Sometimes I get suddenly inspired to write essays. This was one I wrote on a plane, where I read most of The Paris Wife (link to the review). I was about 1/3 of the way done with the book.

There are light books and there are heavy books. What I am reading now is a heavy book. It is no beach read. It is something to reflect upon, and reminisce about things you’ve never experienced, only heard about. It makes you wish you were there, and at the same time, you are grateful you are not. It is so full of pain, and suffering, but yet you wish you could just snap your fingers and make it all better…better for them, trapped in the past, and better for you, transported to it by the words. “There’s no one thing that’s true. It’s all true,” said Hemingway, and I believe him. Why stick to one thing? Why can’t it all be true? We want it so dearly to be do, to know that we have not suffered for nothing. This stinging sharpness of reality that we experience when we think of what did happen, what might have, or what will. Or what didn’t. It is much the same as realizing your own mortality, reading this. So poignant, so fleeting, a brief jolt that punctures your soul until it lets out feeling like a balloon, seeping through you yourself and everything and everyone around. Something brief that leaves a lasting impression, stays with you forever and changes everything. Like love. Are you real? Hemingway asked her. What is real? Is anyone- anything- truly real? Is it all a fevered dream thought up by a tortured mind, too content with fantasy to pay attention to reality? What is real? Is it living in the daylight, or the darkness? Are they so different? Perhaps people live their lives without truly knowing anything. Perhaps there’s nothing to know after all, and it is all in our heads, this conjured facade. How could we bear it if we knew? Is it not better to live under a shadow, behind a veil, shrouded in mist? Ignorance is bliss. But what if true bliss is something we have yet to discover? What if it’s unknowable? What if it doesn’t exist? What if we don’t truly exist?

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