Last night I met my favorite author, Jeanette Winterson. I went for a reading and signing of her new book, "Lighthousekeeping." This was my first opportunity of having the actual writer read part of her novel and it was a great experience. Here is the first part of what she read:
(excerpt from "Lighthousekeeping")
"I used to be a hopeless romantic. I am still a hopeless romantic. I used to believe that love was the highest value. I still believe that love is the highest value. I don't expect to be happy. I don't think of love as the answer or the solution. I think of love as a force of nature - as strong as the sun, as necessary, as impersonal, as gigantic, as impossible, as scorching as it is warming, as drought-making as it is life-giving. And when it burns out, the planet dies.
My little orbit of life circles love. I daren't get any closer. I'm not a mystic seeking final communion. I don't go out without SPF 15. I protect myself."
I first heard of her in college when we were assigned to read the book, "The Passion," and take it from me, the title speaks for itself. I have so many quotes that have stayed with me. I've read all her books and finally getting to meet the person who can write such beautiful, passionate words and who can feel such intense love for someone else, was surreal and I envy the lucky person!
She is very charming. She spoke of how she memorizes a poem each week. This habit of memorizing began early in her childhood because of her strict upbringing which didn't allow her to have any books accept the Bible. She told us the story of how she use to hide her books under her mattress and the only advantage of having a self-absorbed mother was that it took her a little longer than normal to notice that her bed was getting close to the ceiling. She was especially upset that her secret was found out right when she was reading T.S. Elliot. All her books where burned and that is when she began her habit of creating her own inner library. She said to consider a situation in where all things/people are taken from you and you are put into a prison for example, what would you have then? All you have is what's inside and hopefully you'll find plenty there to keep you company.
She's inspired me to do the same.
This is one passage that I had memorized in college and can still recite now from "The Passion".
"Love, they say, enslaves and passion is a demon and many have been lost for love. I know this is true, but I know to that without love we grope the tunnels of our lives and never see the sun. When I fell in love it was as if i looked into a mirror for the first time and saw myself. I lifted my hand in wonderment and felt my cheeks, my neck. This was me. And when I had looked at myself and grown accustomed to who I was, I was not afraid to hate parts of me because I wanted to be worthy of the mirror bearer."
(one more excerpt :)
"I think now that being free is not being powerful or rich or well regarded or without obligations but being able to love. To love someone else enough to forget about yourself even for a moment is to be free. The mystics and the churchmen talk about throwing off this body and its desires, being no longer a slave to the flesh. They don't say that through the flesh we are set free. That our desire for another will lift us out of ourselves more cleanly than anything divine.
We are lukewarm people and our longing for freedom is our longing for love."