how did dare expect
so much of life and how could
act so stupidly
I was in the library the other day and as I do in libraries, I walked down the H aisle of fiction to see how many Jim Harrison books were on the shelf.
I was pleased to see 8.
I looked them over and the book titled, “The Summer He Didn’t Die“, caught my eye.
I knew it was on the shelf at home among the remaining titles in my hard cover library and I also knew I hadn’t opened it in years.
To sidestep into the discussion of EBooks, EReaders and printed books, I am 100% in agreement with those who say there is something to the printed page and holding a book in your lap.
But I also say, move several times and your thoughts on a personal multi volume library will change.
I still say I love print, but am very THANKFUL for electronic versions of any and all books.
But I digress.
When I got home, I took The Summer He Didn’t Die off the shelf and sat in my rocking chair and opened it.
There are, as usual with Mr. Harrison, three long short stories in the book.
The first one was the title short story, The Summer He Didn’t Die, and it is part of the Brown Dog oeuvre.
If you never read anything else going forward, I ask you to find a copy of Brown Dog (what you don’t a free archive.org account?) which has all 6 of the Brown Dog stories anthologized in one volume, and enjoy the trip to world you never considered.
It’s the same world we live in, but it’s not the same world we live in at the same.
You won’t be in Kansas anymore.
The 2nd long short story is titled, “Republican Wives.”
I am sure I read the story when I got the book but I did not have any memory of it.
This was fabulous.
It was new ground or, at least, forgotten old ground, one of the few benefits of getting older.
Reading the long short story, on the 2nd page I hit this line:
How did I dare expect so much of life. And by contrast, how could I have acted so stupidly?
And I stopped reading.
30 minutes later I was still looking at that page.
In the book, The Caine Mutiny, Herman Wouk wrote about the hero, young Willie Keith, after a near death experience, sat back with a cigar and thought.
With the smoke of the dead sailor’s cigar wreathing around him, Willie passed to thinking about death and life and luck and God.
Philosophers are at home with such thoughts, perhaps, but for other people it is actual torture when these concepts – not the words, the realities – break through the crust of daily occurrences and grip the soul.
A half hour of such racking meditation can change the ways of a lifetime …
How did I dare expect so much of life.
And by contrast, how could I have acted so stupidly?
More than saying, But for the Grace of God, go I.
Thank God, and I mean THANK GOD, for grace.
But daring to expect so much of life?
Deep in my soul I think of Prospero in the Tempest.
We are such stuff, as dreams are made on.
Dare to dream.
Dare to expect much.
But, don’t act so stupidly, can’tcha?