This summer, I read one of the most beautiful books I have ever read.
It is “Dandelion Wine” by Ray Bradbury
It appealed to me as a summer read, because the wonderful writing evokes through it’s hero Douglas Spaulding, the very essence of what it is like to discover that you are alive, and describes in amazing detail all the life giving, soul nourishing, bountifulness of being alive in summer.
It is a feeling I recall holding as a boy, a feeling of summer which however I try, I cannot ever seem to rekindle it in my own soul, now that my life’s experiences, the highs and the lows have taken their toll on me.
On Page 292 of Dandelion Wine, after experiencing a continual and wonderful onslaught of words, which described the beautiful essence of summer, I came across these words which have had a profound effect on me:
[Mr Jonas speaking to Douglas Spaulding who is lying unconscious with a fever in his bed under an apple tree]
“Some people turn sad awfully young, he said.
No special reason, it seems, but they seem almost to be born that way.
They bruise easier, tire faster, cry quicker, remember longer and as I say, get sadder younger than anyone else in the world.
I know, for I’m one of them”
These words moved me very deeply in a way which seemed to sum up the very core of my nature.
Despite knowing that I live, despite the generosity and richness of summer, despite all the things I have done, despite all the love I have been given, despite all the successes I have enjoyed, I have never really escaped a pervading sense of sadness, of melancholy, of anxiety and inner pain.
Mr Jonas leaves two bottles for Doug, one of which is filled with the atmosphere of the Arctic and the cold wind of the Hudson Valley; and the other with the winds of the Isles of Aran and Dublin Bay and fog from Iceland.
These mixtures of cooling air revive Doug and I think that they revive me too.
The overwhelming sense, that recognising and accepting melancholy as it rises within me, and then falls in a never ending undulation is tempered, by an ever deepening sense of self, and that these feelings of sadness are only ever a part of it, they do not define it all.
I love this growing capacity within me to nod to my old friend, but not to be owned by it.
To respond by running, by moving, by observing, by being outdoors in the sunshine, in the rain, in the wind so that the body is buffeted, slapped, awakened to an ever-deepening alertness and appreciation for being alive.
I know, for I’m one of them too!
My next blog will be: Testing the Limits