I turn to Gabriel Garcia Marquez when I need perspective in my life. Lately, with the oppressive heat of summer thrust upon me I feel a sense of urgency and anxiety, a need for cool breezes, mountaintops, and clarity. Though he can’t give me all of that, again and again he delivers on perspective.
His writing has a strange and wonderful way of honing in to the intricacies of character and situation with such wryness that each small personality trait or observation he describes stands eternalized as a vignette of the flaws and triumphs of humanity. I like him for that, for his symbolism and simplicity.
I like him for these descriptions of a man facing a firing squad, which I read late last night:
“He thought about his people without sentimentality, with a strict closing of his accounts with life, beginning to understand how much he really loved the people he hated most.” (One Hundred Years of Solitude, Penguin Books Version, P. 122)
“His nostalgia disappeared with the mist and left an immense curiosity in its place.” (P.123)
The first phrase truly made me think. Marquez summed it all up so concisely. And I had to think if that statement was actually true.
Do you actually love the people you hate? I’m not entirely sure.
Does your hatred build structures wherein you can act out your own narratives? Does it facilitate insecurities and the existence of doubt or shame that you can’t or won’t move past? Does hatred allow you to continue to react to hurts that have long since disappeared? Maybe it does all of those things and more.
So, when everything else boils off you may not love the people you hate, but you may need them. You may rely on them. And you may live comfortably within the edifices that such hatred enables you to justify.
It’s a bit scary to think of how much that kind of negativity can limit your outlook and your openness.
The second phrase ““His nostalgia disappeared with the mist and left an immense curiosity in its place,” hit me over the head because both Rick and I are in a place of decision-making about our lives and our futures. It’s hard to know what we want, where we want to be, and how we want to make it all happen. Sometimes the questions can feel paralyzing. But, reading that phrase – so short and sweet – you ask yourself what you would wish you had done if you were facing your death. You wonder at what you would still be curious to see and do in the world knowing you were counting the moments.
Who would you remind of your love, who you would forgive, and what you would want to have achieved, seen, created, or felt? With those questions in mind it’s easy to get a sense of your priorities.
I know that both of us are really considering our own trajectories, and where we want the next few years to take us. After some solid years of saving money, traveling, and seeing a lot of the world, we both know that one of our main priorities is setting down some roots in the near future.
Where and how those roots take shape is the next question, I suppose.