I have never been a very good tourist. I often don’t know what important landmarks a city boasts. I rarely do any research before a trip. I don’t like tour busses. I hate lines. And I don’t like other tourists.
So when everyone told me that I absolutely had to visited the Vatican, I took their advice with a grain of salt. Wanting to make my own decision, I did some basic research. I read about long lines, hordes of visitors taking photos of priceless paintings and strictly controlled access to see the most famous pieces. But I was so intrigued by the complex history, the breathtaking art and the stunning architecture that, against my natural inclination, I decided to visit the Vatican. I should have known better.
There I was all alone in a dim, draughty airport realizing that if I was lucky I would be spending the night on a plastic bench. Gone were my visions of Starbucks’ comfy couches and wifi, gone were my dreams of restaurants with hot food and glasses of wine, gone was my hope of checking my bags. So why was I at an empty Liverpool airport at 11pm when my flight to Naples didn’t leave until 6am the next day? Because I was trying to be a savvy budget traveller.
Great Expectations. Charles Dickens. 1861.
We can control our actions. We can control our choices. But we cannot control our emotions. In Great Expectations, Pip knew to his detriment that he loved Estella against reason, against promise, against peace, against hope, against happiness, against all discouragement that could be.
In moments of confusion and apprehension we seek clarity. At times even those we love cannot help. In my longing and loss, I searched my heart but found only conflict. I sought wisdom, understanding and clarity in the cards.
What I found was a sense of peace, of calm, of connection.What I found was heart-breaking. What I found I know to be true in my heart. What I found is only one of the many, many futures that exist.
Far From The Maddening Crowd. Thomas Hardy. 1874.
I don’t want to make a terrible pun but it really was maddening to attempt to read this book. As it was written in archaic english with run on sentences and period references, I often lost the flow of the story and failed to connect with the characters. The main protagonist, Bethesda, was an independent, strong-willed woman with whom I should have empathized but I found myself disliking her and caring little about her love interests.
1984. George Orwell. 1949.
Big Brother is watching you. A phrase I have known my whole life without understanding it’s true meaning. I now know the horrors it represents in vivid detail. I read this book to not only understand the literary references but also to comprehend what a post-WWII author considered a dystopia. I am glad I chose to read it but I can’t say I actually enjoyed doing so.