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A Guy's Moleskine Notebook

Thoughts and reflections on works of fiction and literature. Pondering of life through pictures and words. Babbling about gay rights. Travelogues and anecdotes.

  • [1] Annie Proulx: Brokeback Mountain
  • [2] Arthur Golden: Memoirs of a Geisha
  • [3] Yu Hua: To Live
  • [4] Alan Hollinghurst: The Line of Beauty
  • [5] Colm Toibin: The Master
  • [6] Carlos Ruiz Zafon: The Shadow of the Wind
  • [7] William James: The Varieties of Religious Experience
  • [8] Charles Higham: The Civilization of Angkor
  • [9] Graham Greene: A Burnt-Out Case
  • [10] Dai Sijie: Mr. Muo's Travelling Couch
  • [11] Alan Hollinghurst: The Swimming-Pool Library
  • [12] Mikhail Bulgakov: The Master and Margarita
  • [13] Colm Toibin: The Blackwater Lightship
  • [14] Alan Hollinghurst: The Folding Star
  • [15] Ross King: Michelangelo and the Pope's Ceiling
  • [16] Fyodor Dostoevsky: The Brothers Karamazov
  • [17] Jonathan Franzen: The Corrections
  • [18] Colm Toibin: The Story of the Night
  • [19] John Banville: Shroud
  • [20] Leo Tolstoy: Resurrection
  • [21] Peter Hessler: River Town, Two Years on the Yangtze
  • [22] Ian McEwan: The Atonement
  • [24] Gabriel Garcia Marquez: Love in the Time of Cholera
  • [25] Ignacio Padilla: Shadow without a Name
  • [26] Umberto Eco: The Name of the Rose
  • [27] Richard Russo: Straight Man
  • [28] Fyodor Dostoevsky: Notes from Underground
  • [29] Alan Hollinghurst: The Spell
  • [30] Hermann Broch: The Death of Virgil
  • [31] James Baldwin: Giovanni's Room
  • [32] Ken Kesey: One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest
  • [33] Xingjian Gao: One Man's Bible
  • [34] C. Jay Cox: Latter Days
  • [35] Harper Lee: To Kill A Mockingbird
  • [36] William Shakespeare: The Taming of the Shrew
  • [37] Daniel A. Helminiak: What The Bible Really Says about Homosexuality
  • [38] James Baldwin: Tell Me How Long the Train's Been Gone
  • [39] Kenji Yoshino: Covering - The Hidden Assault of Civil Rights
  • [40] Italo Calvino: If, On a Winter's Night A Traveler
  • [41] Arthur Phillips: The Egyptologist
  • [42] George Orwell: 1984
  • [43] Michael Warner: The Trouble with Normal: Sex, Politics, and Ethics of Queer Life
  • [44] Andrew Sullivan: Virtually Normal
  • [45] Henry James: The Wings of the Dove
  • [46] Jose Saramago: Blindness
  • [47] Umberto Eco: The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana
  • [48] Dan Brown: Da Vinci Code
  • [49] Kazuo Ishiguro: Never Let Me Go
  • [50] Ken Follett: The Pillars of Earth
  • [51] Leo Tolstoy: War and Peace
  • [52] Michael Thomas Ford: Alec Baldwin Doesn't Like Me
  • [53] Jonathan Franzen: How To Be Alone
  • [54] Jonathan Lethem: The Fortress of Solitude
  • [55] Matthew Pearl: The Dante Club
  • [56] Zadie Smith: White Teeth
  • [57] Fyodor Dostoevsky: The Double
  • [58] Jose Saramago: The Double
  • [59] Andrew Holleran: Dancer from the Dance
  • [60] Heinrich von Kleist: The Marquise of O & Other Stories
  • [61] Andrew Holleran: In September, the Light Changes
  • [62] Tom Perrotta: Little Children
  • July 08, 2006

     

    What Am I Living For?

    I was so busy yesterday dealing with mechanics of the seminar I teach this summer. The class is full with 25 undergraduates and a waiting list with equal amount of students. In addition to all that, there were students shopping for class and hoping to add it. The bad news for everyone who is not on the official class list is that they can only get in unless someone on the roster doesn't up. Anyway, juggling between the class and all the errands, I've managed to read only 22 pages of War and Peace. Reading assignment for my students covers the first two parts of Book 1, which amounts 230 pages due on Monday for discussion. (Should I surprise them with a reading quiz?). I'm a little bit ahead on Book 2 Part 4. However meager in the number of pages I read yesterday, it is quality reading that gives insights to meanings of life and delves with peace of mind and human conscience.

    I will not reveal the circumstances that lead to the scene in question to avoid spoiler. Two men, whose lives and fortunes have changed dramatically during the fetters of war, chance to reunion and find themselves at loggerhead in their view of life's meaning. One has sworn off any army service after living a life for honor and glory--the desire to do something for others and the desire for recognition and praises--and not almost but quite spoils his life. He laments over someone whom he has irretrievably wronged and never has the chance to put right, all because of his chasing after honor and glory. The other man is the exact opposite. He has lived for himself until he realizes all the happiness in life only comes about from serving others and denying himself.

    I put down the book and lapsed into a pondering silence. What am I living for? I have spent almost my entire life living for others--not necessarily serving them and meeting their needs but rather doing things that please people. I can be such a people-pleaser in order to avoid conflict and confrontation. I am always the "nice guy" who is morose, who is sitting at the corner in class, who smiles but never talks much, who is always the first to volunteer, who never complains about anything and who doesn't know how to say "no" to people. My mother's terminal illness dawned on me--I have to break apart from that fake, unrealistic, conforming public image I have meticulously nourished for years.

    Opening up about my sexual orientation is for sure the giant leap toward self-transformation. I realize that if there is ever one thing in life that will render me to be true to myself, that will be the fact of my being gay. It's the inarguable truth written on stone. The revelation of who I am not only removes that burden off my back--but also affords a refreshing perspective of life. I will no longer live for others in the sense of conforming to their standards in order to please and to win approval. I know I have been stupidly obdurate in relationship--how I thrive to change for someone, to conform to his desire, and in the end only to hurt myself so badly. Being true to oneself, after all, is knowing when to let go and move on. Being true to oneself is to preserve that human dignity and peace of mind.

    3 Comments:

    Blogger Alan said...

    You've uncovered an important insight into yourself.

    When I asked myself the same question, and decided to live a life based around my values - life became much easier.

    I think it's great that you are willing to think about such things.

    And I'm still amazed that you're reading War And Peace along with everything else you're doing this Summer. :P

    7/09/2006 4:39 AM  
    Blogger matty said...

    I think you're discussing one of the major keys to understanding how to live life and attempt to find some meaning to it. Hang in there and pursue! But, don't be too hard on yourself. Those ideas/words are often much easier to write/express than to live.

    At what point does compromise become a sacrifce of self?

    I am still not clear on that.

    I think it cute that you worry about giving a spoiler to WAR AND PEACE.

    7/09/2006 3:13 PM  
    Blogger Robert said...

    "I realize that if there is ever one thing in life that will render me to be true to myself, that will be the fact of my being gay."

    Acceptance is certainly a part of the whole, and yet there's so much more to be experienced in this so-called life. Embrace!!

    7/09/2006 9:47 PM  

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