Literature was my very favorite class in school. I loved reading. I was often told I was “out picking daisies” when I wasn’t listening in class. My mother said I was “telling stories” when she suspected what I said wasn’t exactly the truth. I come by this writing thing naturally.
But literature is the common language of all mankind. Cave walls told stories, in picture form, of incidents in history. Maybe some of them were true. Stories were told around campfires when clans gathered at night. Most of those weren’t true, but stories pull us all together.
In the year 2000, my husband and I traveled to Zimbabwe for a trip of a lifetime. We stayed in a camp and my husband went out daily with professional hunters and trackers and some days I stayed in. It was a lot of hiking, and besides, I had a Stephen King novel that I read as I sat by the Zambezi River that was the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe. I also watched the local wildlife from my chair as the workers in the camp went about their daily lives. I felt like it was a National Geographic special right before my eyes.
Part of the week, children who belonged to one of the professional hunters came to spend the week with Dad. They were on break from their boarding school. One little boy, about 10 years old, came over and sat with me and we talked. Most American kids would not have struck up a conversation with an adult they didn’t know. I tried to think of things to talk about as we sat there 8,000 miles from my home, when along came an inch worm on the arm of the chair.
“Oh, look,” I said, “a Pushmi-Pullyu.” I instantly thought this boy will not know what you are talking about. My kids and I used that term even though it wasn’t what the animal looked like in the Dr. Doolittle book.
He sat quietly a moment and then said, “My teacher has been reading Dr. Doolittle to us in school. Are those animals real?”
And instantly this boy, who lived a world away from my world, and I had a bond. Literature. He knew who Dr. Doolittle was! And he knew the wonderful, though fantastical, creatures of that piece of literature written in 1920–long before either of us were born.
Literature brings people of all cultures together. It is a common bond and a goal worth pursuing whether you are reading or writing. What is your favorite piece of literature?
What have you been reading this week?