Chez Moi by Agnes Desarthe – Susan’s Newsletter Aug. 2009

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August 6, 2009 Susan’s Newsletter
Elbert’s Book of Initiative by Elbert Hubbard (Why Read & Learn?  Cultivating the Intellect)
Chez Moi by Agnes Desarthe  (Time moving on, healing)
Good morning!  Dare I admit my coffee filler has rebelled this morning & the entire counter is a deep, dark muck?  Amazing how enough filler can transform what I poured (dumped) into my mug into a relatively good drink!  This week I’ve had a hodgepodge of reading, but am going to go ahead and write out for you some of what I underlined, reading in the quiet, but for all of you.  The first is from the author written on a few weeks ago, Elbert Hubbard, owner of a printing press in the east, written in 1938 (before his death on the Lusitania).  Here is his writing on why we should continue to learn, to read, to challenge ourselves to grow intellectually, regardless of the time allotted to learning…being selective on what we read and discuss.
Why read and learn?
Cultivate the intellect, and you shall have a mind that produces beautiful thoughts, worthy images, helpful ideas; that will serve as a solace in times of stress, and be to you a refuge ‘against all the storms that blow.  The cultured mind, as compared with the uncultured, is the difference between a beautiful garden which produces vegetables, fruits or flowers, and a tract of land that is overgrown with weeds and brambles.
To be a person of culture is to be at home under all conditions.  Your mind is stored with mental images, and memory comes to keep you company, and guide you from nostalgia and the sense of separateness to universality or oneness with the Divine.  The country will be beautiful to you in any season, and society and solitude each will be welcomed by you in turn.  You are to reject nothing, despise nothing, knowing that everything belongs somewhere, and that it is needed to make up the great mosaic of life. 
On life going on, regardless of circumstances…going on by being aware, having hope, and seeing possibilities…
I was able to read a book this week called Chez Moi by Agnes Desarthe.  This is a novel on an independent woman beginning a new life & opening a little cafe in France.  Here are some of the thoughts I underlined…for the hope in them…that time moves along…time healing.
Sadness wells up and you’d drown in it if there weren’t things to do, letters to post, bills to pay, holiday time to allow for.  We all know that if we don’t put our lives together as we go along no one else will do it for us.
“You’re very brave.”  I’m not sure what she means by it, what she knows about me, what she’s discovered about my fate and on what authority she makes this diagnosis…”You’re very brave” that means I’m coping well, that I’ve got that little extra something, I’m up to the job and should feel proud I’ve done so well.  I overcome, endure, achieve.  Her little sentence drives into me like a screw.  With every turn there’s another source of pain, with every turn another reason to be pleased and proud, going deeper and deeper…Man’s happiness has nothing to do with his survival.  It lies somewhere else.  Because of our awareness, because of hope, because of the infinite possibilities.
I cried about everything (one particular morning…), I thought I’d never stop.  “And you stopped.”  “I stopped.”  “It always stops.  Have you noticed that?”   We think for a moment about how sadness inevitably comes to an end.
One more saying I read on this (time moving on…bringing a new day)…The weariest night, the longest day, sooner or later must perforce come to an end.  (Baroness Orczy)
I told you the reading was a gathering of different thoughts, but still worthy of being in our minds.  No matter where you are in your circumstances, there is hope.  Hope because of the infinite possibilities of the next movement in our songs.  Are you in a “minor key” movement of your story?  The movement will eventually (sometimes within only a few measures, sometimes a few more movements away) become beautiful again.  Because of our ability to be aware.  To have hope, to have infinite possibilities for what we can read, discuss, cultivate in our minds
Who will each of us be in 10 years?  What will we have read?  Who will we have spent time with in discussions?  Will we be vulnerable and make friendships?  Even at the possibility of pain when the friendship ends through moving or death or situations?  Will we continue to “cultivate our intellect” with what will then give us thoughts that are edifying?  Images that cause us to pause?  Ideas that are helpful to us when the music changes?  Are we prepared for a change into (instead of out of) a minor movement in our song?  Have we worked on cultivating our gardens so that we can handle the next day?  With strength?  Are we prepared (by becoming friends with authors and letting them prepare us)…are we prepared for any condition?  What are we filling our spare time with?  What are we listening to?  Reading?  Which relationships are we taking seriously and pursuing?  Those that will enable us in ten years to show a growth intellectually? 
Who will I be in 10 years?  I look forward to the meeting with myself.  Wish I could look now.  Who will influence me?  Only if I take the time to find who is worth reading will I be changed.  Prepared.  Examples of those that have looked to the heavens and dropped to their knees…keeping all in eternity’s perspective.  Life is so incredibly short.  Let’s make our epitaphs tonight (for the moments used today) worth recording.  Read and think on things today that as we lay down today our minds spin with new thoughts, new ideas….life.  It’s up to us.  Cultivate.  A decision we must each personally make.  Each minute.  Go make your day count…make decisions that no one else know you’re making that make you proud.  Thank you so much for letting me come into your Thursday again.  I honestly hope I’m working when you come in the store, but if not, thank you so much for your business.  Go write your music…the composition is directed by you more than you might think.  Susan
Works Cited:
Desarthe, Agnes.  Chez Moi.  New York.  Penguin Books.  2008.
Hubbard, Elbert.  Elbert’s Book of Initiative.  Whitefish, MT.  Kessinger.  2007. (Reprint of 1938 edition)