Between the Pages of "To the Lighthouse" by Virginia Woolf

Mrs Dalloway is the only Virginia Woolf novel I have read. When I am done reading To the Lighthouse I will have read my second. Do you have a recommendation for my third? Here is the thing, I just really started reading. I am still within the first pages. I do not even know the little boy's name. His mother is still knitting that reddish-brown stocking for the Lighthouse keeper's little boy. She is optimistic about the morrow's weather. But the father has spoiled his boy's hope of having fine weather. His daydream about visiting the Lighthouse has been rudely interrupted and he is now absorbed in violent feelings for his father that seem very Freudian.

So my plan is to come back here, maybe today, or by the end of the week and write some more because I would have read some  more by then. I have been doing a few new things and for the moment it has become a little more challenging to make time for everything.

So until later. Stay warm (if you are also suffering winter) and have an awesome time!

Back! (3/3/15)
What I love about Woolf is that she requires your attention and when you give it, you're rewarded.  March, so far, is still a busy halo around me and the reading is still slow, but I see calmer and faster page turning days ahead. I just finished chapter ten and there have been already many things I could discuss but what is taking precedent in my thoughts is Mrs. Ramsay's musings on happiness.  The notion that our happiest years are our childhood ones is often present in my own thoughts. Mrs. Ramsay has just finished reading to James and she is thinking, "oh, but she never wants James to grow a day older!" then later in the same paragraph, "she thought, he will never be so happy again, but she stopped herself, remembering how it angered her husband that she should say that. Still, it was true. They were happier now than they would ever be again." This holds my interest especially because I have also feel that children are much happier. But why should not  they be? It is effortless to be happy in the comforts of innocence, not having to slave to earn a little money only to give it all to rent and a few groceries, or in Mrs Ramsey thinking, the beach house could use some renovation; an unhappy subject.  But responsibilities aside, and societal rules aside, is it really true that one cannot be still very happy? Does the awakening to life's "realities" take away the ability to appreciate the beauty it still possess? I think childhood happiness ought to be distinguished from the sort of happiness that we gleaned from life in later life. But it ought to be taken as a great well of memory through which the difficulty of older years can draw strength from and reestablish a different sort of happiness.

I used to be convinced that we are never as happy as we were when we were children, that is if you even had the luck of a good healthy childhood, but I am beginning to feel that we are still able to be as happy. It is just that the happiness we experience after innocence is a different kind. In that it is not often built on novelty but experience and often difficult choices. As I write this, it is snowing. Perhaps a child will see beauty in the look and comforting nature of the flakes, as well as the opportunity of play. An adult, living in NYC, might think of having to go to work through black snow, the transportation system failing, the heat not working properly, that bad knee.  But a matured individual could still appreciate the different stages of this event of snow.  They can see the ugly and also the beauty.  Unhappiness is the state reached when focus is narrowed on the challenges that we face without any attention to the positivity and adventure that this same challenges present. Yes, it's March and it's been a very cold winter but we have survived January and February and spring will soon be here. This is winter's last fight, I can respect that, and I admire it. Experience gives us the lesson of seasons, but also the sense of being in moments. It is difficult to be happy when one ignores the beauty and good of the present. What children often have is the ability to be present. Even when James dreams of visiting the Lighthouse, he can still listen to his mother read The Fisherman and His Wife and live within that moment, while his mother's thoughts are in the past, and filled with concerns for the future. (I wonder the significance of this tale in the novel. I'm yet to read it, but I think I know the synopsis.)

Mrs. Ramsey is right that James will never be as happy as he was as a child. That kind of happiness dies because it cannot survive the many disappointments that life throws our way: the struggles to afford oneself and find solitude in being, to love and be loved. The only way that sort of childish happiness continues is through denial. But James can learn another sort of happiness that is equally, if not even more so, delightful; the adventure of living and appreciating the beauty that is, of learning and growing and laughing in pain till happiness come and crying in the relief of happiness until pain comes.


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