Reading has been such an important part of my life. As a secondary education student I always felt like my teachers had to force me to read my assigned novels, I remember actually counting pages and trying to figure out how many I needed to read a night to complete the book by the assigned date.
Then as I entered college and found my niche and my major, I realized that this reading thing wasn’t such a bad gig. In fact I was starting to enjoy it, once I realized the authors and writers I was drawn to the most; like Shakespeare, Poe, Hemingway, and for fun I read Sparks and Grisham, then I started reading more for pleasure.
But now as a busy mom, a working gal, a wife, and just an all around little rat running on the wheel of life; I find myself clinging to any spare minute that I am able to sit down and enjoy a good book these days. Now, I don’t do many things for myself, and I recently partook in a guilty pleasure that I actually felt guilty for doing. I was at the end of my book, and it was getting so good and juicy, that my husband asked if I wanted to run an errand with he and the kids — and I bowed out to finish my book. I felt so bad … but on the other hand it felt so good to finish this incredible book and have a little “me” time. Because I am the type of mother and wife that devours every second I am able to spend with my family, we are very rarely apart ... but this time I was just dying to get to the end of this fantastic read.
So anyway, I’m trying to broaden my horizons on my reading repertoire. Even though I don’t get a lot of time to read, I am allowing myself to indulge in one “fun” book, what I call an easy read or one that keeps my attention all the way through; and then in between those I am marking off my classical list of books that I have read in the very distant past or have never read, but want to mark them off my “literary bucket list.”
I just recently started reading “The Great Gatsby,” by F. Scott Fitzgerald. I remember long ago seeing the 1974 film version of the book starring Robert Redford and Mia Farrow, and it was absolutely divine. I couldn’t imagine living such a carefree, decadent lifestyle. So that prompted me to make the novel my “classical read” this time around.
Not two paragraphs into this fabulous novel I came across a quote between Gatsby and his father that just rang out in my ears and mind.
“Whenever you feel like criticizing any one,” he told me, “just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had.”
For some reason this echoed in my mind; but what caught my attention was that this is so true on so many levels. I realize that Gatsby’s father was speaking literally; but my brain started working metaphorically. Gatsby was raised in a world full of wealth and privilege, and his father was encouraging him not to judge or criticize others’ lifestyles, mainly due to the fact that most don’t have the financial means to back up their desired lifestyle, like the Gatsby family did.
The symbolism that my mind conjured up (I felt) was as poignant to our society, as a whole, that sometimes we all need to reconsider our thoughts or our words before we think them, judge another, or speak them. Because once harsh words of judgment or criticism are spoken, they can be like daggers to someone’s heart or ego.
So many thoughts came rushing to my head; for example, what if a man is on a fun weekend away with his buddies and the wife calls on a continuous basis. If the husband is OK with her calls and checking in, then there needs to be no judgment passed upon her. You don’t know what her past was like; she may have been in an abusive or adulteress relationship with another man and her main insecurity is the possible threat of that happening to her again with the man she loves. And you may not understand this, because as Gatsby’s father pointed out, you may have lived a privileged life ... but your privileged life is one filled with a faithful, devoted spouse.
Scars come in all forms, not all are visible on the exterior; sometimes the worst scars and wounds aren’t skin deep, but cut to someone’s emotional core.
Another thought that rose to mind was people not understating the ways other cultures exist. If you haven’t been given the opportunity to see the world, or even just outside of your personal community, it is hard to relate to, and understand how other societies, cultures and religions exist. So with that said, don’t judge someone that criticizes other ways of living, because they may not have been given an opportunity to see and understand other people’s ways of life.
Remember, we all share this world together, and we mustn’t be too quick to judge one another. We all make mistakes, but we all live our lives in our own way, so just accept people for their way of living and move on with your own life in the manner in which you dictate.
Samantha Stroube-Daviss is a local columnist based in Corsicana. She may be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Following Samantha’s blog at http://samantha-daviss.blogspot.com and on Twitter at @SamanthaDaviss1.