This has been a bad week.
Summer is over and I don’t feel like I’ve made meaningful progress in my journey. The engine is running, but I’m in idle and can’t seem to shift into drive.
I tried writing a couple different posts this week but didn’t finish them. This morning I’m forcing myself to write. I’m terrified if I don’t I’ll walk away from my blog.
Why am I’m at the bottom of this valley? I don’t know.
Please don’t remind me it gets better. I know.
Don’t remind me you’re worried about me. I know.
This is just part a of my journey. I’m sad, but not irrational. I know you care. And, that helps.
I’m strong and I know the despair I’m feeling will eventually dissipate. It will be replaced by the optimism that’s in my hard wiring. On some level it is a waiting game of sorts.
In the meanwhile, one of my favorite novels is The Grapes of Wrath.
I didn’t read it until I was in my forties. If I had read it at fifteen, I doubt I’d appreciate the depth of Steinbeck’s observations on the human condition.
The book is not just the story of the Joads, a family looking for work while fleeing the droughts of Oklahoma.
It is also a treatise on the dark side of capitalism.
Throughout the novel, Steinbeck writes a short “chapter” explaining how people and businesses take advantage of the less-fortunate who lack the resources to fight back.
For example, Steinbeck writes a short chapter describing tricks unethical used car dealers employ when selling lemons to unsuspecting victims.
The next chapter graphically describes how the Joads fall prey to one such predator on their journey from Oklahoma to California.
There is so much about this book that is remarkable. When published in 1939, The Grapes of Wrath was banned and burned in some communities. It was argued over on talk radio.It was both loved and despised.
Most importantly, it was read.
The Grapes of Wrath was the best-selling book in 1939. It received a Pulitzer Prize for fiction and eventually, a Nobel Prize.
What stands out for me is fact is, despite the gloom and despair running rampant through the story, the book ends with a beautiful, simple act of humanity.
After four-hundred and sixty-three pages of writing about all that is wrong with society, Steinbeck redeems humanity, and ends the story on a note of hope on the last page.
Just writing this post has helped me put my own feelings in perspective. While I’m still in the valley, I know there are paths I can follow to scale the peaks as well.
And so it goes.
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PS: Here’s a quote from John Steinbeck on The Grapes of Wrath, “I want to put a tag of shame on the greedy bastards who are responsible for this [the Great Depression and its effects].” I don’t wonder how he’d feel about Donald Trump.