Involvement

Sometimes I feel as if the world is running around me in madness. If I “stop to smell the roses”, if I turn my focus inward, if I live to make my family’s life more pleasant, am I neglecting the good I could be doing outside my home? Is there something else I could be offering? In my heart, I know the answer is no. But sometimes the pace and frantic call of the world around me unsettles my soul. And to them, I only want to say, “Stop. Read. Write. Reflect.”

We should take care of ourselves and the people around us. Be kind.And spread that love to others. Peace will spread even though we do not actually attempt to “end evil”. To pursue that is futile.

wp-1485287109543.jpg

I don’t need to be directly involved with “them”, “him”, or “others”. My influence is felt through my kindness to those nearest me and continues to spread when others do the same.

The Party Line is Not “News”

Something great came to mind this morning. Do know what Facebook is like? It’s like a party line on old land phones. It’s mostly gossip and opinion. There are very few facts, unless it’s something like “Hey, it’s snowing on my side of town!” or “My son just won an award!”. It’s great entertainment and a great tool for keeping in touch with people, sometimes. But it’s not anything to base your judgment on or to help you make decisions other than “Can I make it to my friend’s birthday party she just invited me to?”

Funny thing is that my teenage sons already know this. They’re growing up with it.

So, yes, I unfriend and unfollow people. Some people I’m just not close enough to put up with their negativity and ugly posts. If it were a party line and that person was on, I’d hang up and try again later.

War & Peace Notes #2

Well, writing every day hasn’t been going very well lately! How can I make sure I leave time for this? I’m overwhelmed with what I want to do and need to schedule the time and stick to it.

I’m still madly in love with this book! Not since “Pride & Prejudice” have I yelled out loud while reading a book. I’m amazed that everyone has not read it. On to my notes!

Page 155 “you think it’s very easy to capture marshals while sitting on a sofa in front of a fireplace.” That needs no explanation.

Page 156 Prince Andrei is starting to see what a little part he plays in the grand scheme of things. He comes to Brunn to report about his troop’s victory and finds that no one really cares. There are bigger things going on. Lost in our own world, we tend to forget that the world is large. In the grand scheme of things, no one cares or is affected by your taxes going up or your voting in a new mayor. It’s only important to you.

Page 174-175 “The further ahead he moved, the closer to the enemy, the more orderly and cheerful the troops looked.” “All the faces were as calm as though everything was happening not in view of the enemy, prior to an action in which half the division would be left in the field, but somewhere in their home country, in expectation of a peaceful stay.” When I read this I noted that maybe just how we all react in a crisis but reading farther on, I believe they are calm because there is no question about what they need to do. Further from the front line there is less to do and more time to kill. The soldiers are most comfortable when they have no choices to make.

Page 178 “I say that if it were possible to know what there will be after death, none of us would be afraid of death.” My thoughts exactly. I also heard that it isn’t death we are afraid of but dying itself because it might be painful. We’re really afraid of pain. They were talking about it in “All’s Quiet On the Western Front”.

Page 190 “…the thought that he, an exemplary officer, with many years of service, to blame for nothing, might be blamed before his superiors for negligence of inefficiency, struck him so much that, at the same moment, forgetting both the disobedient cavalry colonel and his own dignity as a general, and above all totally forgetting danger and the sense of self-preservation, he gripped the pommel, spurred his horse, and galloped off to his regiment under a hail of bullets…” Not a very noble picture of war. I’m starting to get the idea that Tolstoy is not a big fan of war or the military.

Page 199 Prince Andrei is becoming disillusioned with the military service he dreamed about. Officer’s lying to save their hides and throwing subordinates under the bus. It’s so sad to watch his feelings turn. You can almost touch it.

That’s all I have today since I’m rushing. Sigh. I need to block my time better in the morning but my son is sick and wanted to watch a movie and make cookies. How can I refuse my giant teenage babies?!

“War & Peace” – Part 1

I started reading “War & Peace” by Leo Tolstoy on December 18th. It’s been on my reading list for years but I’ve been putting off because, well, it’s Tolstoy and it’s 1200 pages long! I’ve been so pleasantly surprised since I started reading it. It’s wonderful and I’ve been sucked into the story, not wanting to put it down. The thing that has really helped me most is the list of characters and their relationships at the front of the book. I keep flipping back to it to remember who is who. Keeping track of who is doing what in a book this long and with each character having several names, has been the hardest part of reading it, but the story is amazing!

I’ll be writing about the book all this month but I thought I’d start now with a couple of very interesting quotes.

Here’s the first one! It’s from Volume One, Part One, II. They are at a party.

“For Pierre, brought up abroad, this soiree of Anna Pavlovna’s was the first he had seen in Russia. He knew that all the intelligentsia of Petersburg was gathered there, and, like a child in a toy shop, he looked everywhere at once. He kept fearing to miss intelligent conversations that he might have listened to. Looking at the self-assured and elegant expressions on the faces gathered here, he kept expecting something especially intelligent. Finally, he went up to Morio. The conversation seemed interesting to him, and he stopped, waiting for a chance to voice his thoughts, as young people like to do.”

I can see my older son doing just this at a party. I only hope he gets the chance to move in circles where the topics range farther than how many times the mailboxes have been broken into and what new fast-food chain is opening in town.

Natasha is a young girl with her doll who enters the party chased by her sisters and brother into her mother’s arms. A woman speaking with her mother asked her a question about her doll.

“Natasha did not like the condescension to childish talk in which the guest addressed her. She made no reply and gave the guest a serious look.”

I’ve gotten this look from one of my nephew’s. Children don’t appreciate being talked to differently than adults. I’ve learned my lesson and never assume anything. I treat children as I would any adult that came into my presence.

“Up to now, thank God, I’ve been a friend to my children and have enjoyed their full trust,” said the countess, repeating the error of many parents who suppose that their children have no secrets from them.”

Of course, they do! No matter how close you are with someone, you always have secrets. Some things are just private. We need to respect that, even with children, and know they will have some secrets but be there when they want help with them.

I’m loving this part of the book. You could call it “Parenting With Tolstoy”!

“Well, so you see, if I were strict with her, if I forbade her…God knows what they’d do on the sly…”

and

“One is always too clever with the older children, wanting to do something extraordinary,”

And here’s one that makes me think of “A Thomas Jefferson Education”. It’s a dream I had when my boys were little that never manifested itself other than the reading aloud part.

“On entering the drawing room, where the princesses were usually to be found, he greeted the ladies, who were sitting over their embroidery and a book, which one of them was reading aloud.”

And how’s this for an attitude to have?

“I’ve got four sons in the army, and I’m not grieving. It’s all God’s will: you can die in your sleep, and God can spare you in battle,”

That’s the attitude I try to have about my sons. You have to do what you love, what fuels you. You can’t just hold them at home and keep them safe forever.

There’s so much humanity in this book that never changes. It warms my heart to read about society, politics, wars, and families from the distant past. It shows me that there is continuity. It’s not currently the end of the world.

Here’s some from Part Two.

“The halted infantry soldiers, crowding in the trampled mud by the bridge, gazed at the clean, foppish hussars going past them in order, with that special feeling of ill will, alienation, and mockery with which different branches of the military usually meet each other.”

I’ll leave you with this because it’s just so classic. It could have been written in a modern novel about politicians.

“Bilibin’s conversation was constantly sprinkled with wittily original and well-turned phrases of general interest. These phrases were manufactured in Bilibin’s inner laboratory, as if intentionally of a portable nature, so that society nonentities could readily remember them and pass them on from drawing room to drawing room.”

You know, stuff you can share on Facebook!