I Thought My Soul Would Rise and Fly

By: epluribusgeenum

Jun 21 2009

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Category: Literature, Potent Quotables

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It annoys me when I forget to make an entry private.  (Shakes fist)  Moving on–

When I was a kid Mom would take us to get piles of books from the public library a week at a time, and I’d blaze through them like a word-starved maniac.  I don’t know if it was a learned or an inherently nerdy thing, but I’d keep a Mead spiral with me when I read and wrote down my favorite parts and how I felt about them.   I think I figured someday someone important (like my kid) would read them and enjoy it.  Psssh I obviously have high expectations for my kids.  And if I had enough money and care I would collect those Dear America books like there was no tomorrow so that in the future, my daughter (or son, or or or PET… depending on how the future goes?) could read them.  They’re fictionalized diaries of non-existent characters set during a certain historical moment.  Non-existent in that they were made-up girls, but the characters encompassed what history can only assume the general spirit of a girl that age would be like.

This was my favorite.  I hoarded this one for several weeks.

I found an old Mead notebook of mine in my closet and ended up on the page about this diary. It inspired me to go to the library and get this book.  I re-read it all today.  The main character, Patsy is a recently emancipated teenage slave girl (why does that sound so odd?).  But, having been born into slavery, she has no idea what to do with herself when she gained all that freedom.  What did it even mean, to be free?  She stayed on the plantation afterward — torturous, monotonous, and dead-ended as it may have been.  Patsy also stuttered and walked with a limp, something I really liked.  I once had a stutter, too.  I still do now, but it takes on a different form…sometimes the words just come out too fast, too slow, not even in the right syntax, or not at all, and I’m left wondering, what the hell was that?

Sometimes, being lame in speech and stride is not a mark of dimwittedness or handicap — not if you do something about it.  It’s a good challenge to recognize your faults and work over them and get better.  Patsy handled her faults with such grace, developed skills she never thought possible and eventually found that freedom had little to do with her surroundings and all to do with what was inside of her.  The specific entry I wrote that struck me when I read it yesterday:


Sooo.  My handwriting has been the same since 7th grade.  Except it was obviously way neater back then.

Finding old journals and hearing what a younger me had to say is like a gentle slap to the face.  Right now my nose is buried in Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead and I’ve already got myself a notebook filled with paragraphs that struck me.  And since we are on the subject of freedom, I want to share a quote.  I started asking friends who borrow my books to do me one favor, and that favor is to stick notecards wherever they felt strongly about something they read.  It’s like a book club except without the lame meetings, and perhaps with a sprinkle more thought and care.  Plus the surprise factor of flipping through and seeing those cards is pretty cool.  I hope Kara doesn’t mind, because I found myself nodding and stroking my non-existent beard to what she had to say:

PAGE 149:

Before this page, I did not like Dominique.  It’s here that you see an inkling of what she stands for, how she views the world.  I read it and understood completely, seeing a part of myself in her.  She has a much more negative outlook, but she has the right idea about something being wrong with society.  I guess it shouldn’t matter what a person does in their private time, but it can definitely change your view of their character.  And I might just have to use this as a motto:

“I take the only desire one can really permit oneself…


To ask nothing.  To expect nothing.  To depend on nothing.”

Good stuff.  Read on, kiddos!  It’s summer.  Best time for readin’.  And if you own a hammock, you have one-upped me immensely.


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