Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Trendin' The Lovely Bones

Travel companion

My little Scottish weekend getaway
I think it's fair to say that I'm an explorer by heart and practice - I just love travelling, especially if it involves castle hunting! It's a solo job technically, but it's not to say that I wouldn't mind having a companion or partner with me. No no. Being alone helps you to concentrate better (which is good if I'm doing a post about where I went) but being with a special someone else would definitely double the amount of fun I have every time - I do feel a bit lonely when I see happy couples walking past smiling and holding hands, ready to delve into whatever's ahead of them. I think for me, my ideal travel companion would have to meet the three following criteria:

1) Patient - has to be able to wait for me when I'm appreciating x monument and talk to me only when I feel like it

2) Comforting - will cheer me up when things don't turn out right during my trip

3) Flexible - won't get upset if my plans change, be it for a minor issue like not being able to see x monument during the trip or the worst case of cancelling the entire voyage.

A friend you can call on whenever
Perfection is something I always strive for - a travel companion for me wouldn't be ideal until the three above criteria are met. Perhaps I haven't found the perfect person for this job yet (or maybe I have...shh! ;P). But in cases like this, we have to think out of the box. Perfection mightn't be something that's easily achievable by people, but in the case of a book, I'd it's definitely possible.

The Lovely Bones

Next stop, Glasgow.
by Alice Sebold. An unusual read to choose for travelling but nonetheless brilliantly written.The story revolves around what occurs before and after the death of fourteen year old Susie Salmon ("like the fish"). Raped and murdered by Mr. Harvey, a man who lived alone opposite the Salmons and spent his time building doll houses, Susie narrates the story from heaven based on her feelings and struggle to reconnect with her family and friends. At the same time, she talks about her family and friends' refusal to believe her death and how they themselves struggle to live without her. It is only when everyone is able to let go that a thin line of peace resumes in the Salmon household.

Reality meets fantasy

To me, I think the realistic nature of this book is definitely what grabbed my attention. When I go travelling, I fantasize about the impossible - images of mythical and enchanted creatures, of magic and of simply first love or secret romances flood into my mind particularly when I'm walking alone in a forest. Travelling for me is my ultimate getaway, my little time of peace and pleasure. Sebold's book is a clear antithesis to the fairytale I've described. And I guess that's what I liked, that I was able to go on all these amazing trips and forget about reality for a minute. Reading The Lovely Bones during my outings was a way of reminding myself that not everyday and every moment can be a fantasy. That in reality, awful things can occur out of the blue. I think travelling and the book itself helped me strike a balance between reality and fantasy; I wasn't too full of one side and not the other - ultimate perfection.

Lunch in Edinburgh

There's a reason for everything

Though it may seem hard to believe why exactly something had to happen at this time and to that particular person, Sebold reminds us that there is a reason for that incident. It may not be that clear and obvious at first, but if we all give it sometime, it'll slowly uncover themselves. It was a sickly relief for me when the tables turned and all the misfortune Mr. Harvey had caused others fell all upon him at the end (if you want to know exactly what happened, you'll have to read it yourself). There's a reason for everything, and I've quite simply lived to believe that even if it seems ridiculously impossible to do so at times.

Never forget the dead

This definitely has to be the ultimate moral or message of the book (to me at least) - it's what made it the pinnacle of perfection. Susie's struggle to reconnect with her family and friends by showing herself during instances in their lives after her death basically illustrates the message above. It's a comforting thing to think - that the dead can choose to not give up on us no matter how impossible it is. And I guess, at the same time, it's kind of our duty to not give up on them. Perhaps it's a bit too much to say that we should try to find a way to reconnect with them in reality - it's not possible because they are unfortunately not alive anymore. But I think, it is possible for us to believe that at least their spirit still lingers around us and will be there for us during our toughest times. And for me, it makes me feel happier to know that even though those that I wish were with me during my travels and in general life aren't technically there for me physically, they are in spirit. 

At The Scott Monument, Edinburgh
And through that, I know that I am never truly alone.

A compendium of emotions and experiences with a graceful dash of reality, Sebold's book is a chillingly comforting read for anyone who feels alone or is simply looking for an absolute work of literary art.

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