Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Those Abandoned Dreams.

Every now and then, you come across a passage that really speaks to you. 

"Since I knew you, I have been troubled by a remorse that I thought would never reproach me again, and have heard whispers from old voices impelling me upward, that I thought were silent for ever. I have had unformed ideas of striving afresh, beginning anew, shaking off sloth and sensuality, and fighting out the abandoned fight. A dream, all a dream, that ends in nothing, and leaves the sleeper where he lay down, but I wish you to know that you inspired it.”
- Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

The thing is, I know little of the context of this passage. I read the book when I was about eight, and understood close to nothing. I hardly remember any of its contents now. But I came across this paragraph again as an adult, and it really spoke to me. 

Someone entered your life, out of nowhere. They stirred feelings and aspirations that you thought were long gone or were buried too deep, and now that you realized those feelings you thought were long dead have awaken again, you're filled with a deep yearning. But for what? You start dreaming again, fantasizing the things you could be and do and these yearnings make you restless. You suddenly feel like giving up your bad habits and taking up good ones. You suddenly want to become a much, much better person. You want to become a better person who makes the world a better place for others. And all because of this uninvited guest in your life.

But alas, you're you. Deep down you know these dreams are short-lived. They'll only remain in your head. You won't actually do most of those things and even if you did, you are only that 'better' person, for a short while. Because the demons in you will always win. But you just can't shake off that you need to be better. And you both love and hate the uninvited guest for stirring those feelings, dreams and possibilities in you and you're suddenly constantly reminded of how flawed you are. But you thank them anyway. Thank you, for making me realize I am not dead inside. Thank you, for making me feel again. Thank you for inspiring me although I led myself nowhere. The flaws were all mine, and your existence made me realize what I could have been, had I not been so flawed. I will cherish these dreams forever, even if they only live to exist in the deep recesses of my mind.

My father really loved Charles Dickens. And he wanted to share Dickens' magic with me. At eight, I was absolutely fascinated by David Copperfield. He gave Dickens' David Copperfield to me, and in an attempt to get me to read it, he told me it was about the magician. My English was so bad at the time that I only realized halfway through the book that it wasn't about my Copperfield, the magician. When I confronted him about it, he merely told me that well, technically he didn't lie. David Copperfield did choose his stage name based on Charles Dickens' David Copperfield. 

And so he did.

So it was absolutely bizarre (actually, no, not at all) that I should come across this passage again as an adult and finally understood what my father was getting at. Maybe it never really occurred to him that as a kid, I would never be able to fully appreciate Dickens or understand the emotional complexity of his writings. Maybe he was all too excited to share that magic with someone. So it is by pure chance that I should revisit this passage again as an adult, and feel compelled to revisit his books and discover the magic that I was blind to as a child, and to attempt to understand my father and his world. 

And so I will.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I really like looking through a post that can make men and women think.

Also, many thanks for allowing for me to comment!