It was just this time of year when I first saw the spectacular performance of Tom Stoppard's Arcadia--I'm sure that's at least part of why I associate Stoppard's work with Autumn. Sometimes, it seems that there's a sense of stagnation, of staggering silence. Are we taking a deep breath before diving full-tilt into the chill? This year, the season brings more of a sense of recollection and hope. I'm trying to breath more this year--to devour every scrap of books, to soak up the wonder of writing, reading and being.
In some ways, it seems I've learned more in the last year than ever before. Or perhaps, I'm just appreciating the balled-up wealth of experience, book learning and other bits of knowledge. There's something of Arcadia in the sense of it. We can move back and forth in time. We can lament what was lost as we recognize the realities of the present moment (and our interpretation of it). Ultimately, there's something magical and tragic and wonderful in our experience; but the realization is often fleeting and hampered by so much else that comes into our lives.
I love this quote: "We shed as we pick up, like travelers who must carry everything in their arms, and what we let fall will be picked up by those behind. The procession is very long and life is very short. We die on the march. But there is nothing outside the march so nothing can be lost to it. The missing plays of Sophocles will turn up piece by piece, or be written again in another language. Ancient cures for diseases will reveal themselves once more. Mathematical discoveries glimpsed and lost to view will have their time again. You do not suppose, my lady, that if all of Archimedes had been hiding in the great library of Alexandria, we would be at a loss for a corkscrew?"
What will we relearn, rediscover or remember--even within the scope of our own lives? I've learned so much from the lives and works of my favorite writers. I know my life (and writings) would have been dramatically different if it weren't for those many characters (and images)... How would your life have been different?
Cover Art © Farrar Straus & Giroux.