Thank You Harper Lee

To Kill A Mockingbird book cover
To Kill A Mockingbird book cover

“Success should always call for showing greater kindness, generosity and justice; only people lost in the darkness treat it as an occasion for greater greed.” ~ Cyrus the Great

“Words, in my humble opinion, are our most inexhaustible source of magic.” ~ Dumbledore, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2

“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view–until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.” ~ Harper Lee

As most of you know, Harper Lee died this past week. Until last year, her reputation as a world class author rested on one book, To Kill A Mockingbird. I haven’t yet read her latest book, Go Set A Watchman, its on order, but if I rely on the description, it rounds out the maturation of the character of Scout. She learns some things that change her perspective of her childhood, her life and her community. To me that’s what life is all about, learning and growing, accepting the good and the bad without judgment.

In my estimation, having even one book so widely read and acclaimed is quite an accomplishment. Harper Lee’s book lays open the human condition for us to examine. She, like all authors, allows us to climb into the skin of the characters and walk around in them for awhile. Most of us don’t get to make that large an impact on the world, but that doesn’t matter. As another famous author, George Eliot, wrote of her main character Dorothea Ladislaw in the final passage of her book Middlemarch, “Her finely-touched spirit had still its fine issues, though they were not widely visible. Her full nature, like that river which Cyrus broke the strength, spent itself in channels which had no great name on the earth. But the effect of her being on those around her was incalculably diffusive: for the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.”

Each person touches so many other lives. We’re often carelessly wrapped up in our problems that we act in ways that we might not choose if we were thinking clearly. We forget that we have an effect on those around us. Perhaps that’s all part of our drive toward learning as well. For making mistakes with dire consequences can wake us up and cause us to be more conscious from then on. Every interaction plants seeds. Seeds of thought, seeds of emotions, seeds for good or ill.

Often as I’m sitting at the computer writing, I wonder if what I’m writing will touch anyone’s heart and I think of all the writers throughout the ages, known and unknown who recorded their experiences because they had to, because something inside called out to be expressed. For one reason or another, some work is never discovered and read. However, I like to think that nothing is ever lost and what those authors wrote is out there in the ethers somewhere and we are affected by the insights they expressed.

That’s why I write. I know that I may never be a famous world class writer like Harper Lee, but if I learn something vital about what it means to be human from my experience of writing, then I’ve lived faithfully. My hidden life as a writer will add something to the whole of humanity in some mysterious way and that is enough.

I am grateful that Harper Lee wrote To Kill A Mockingbird. She helped so many people on levels seen and unseen. I’m equally grateful that many other writers dare to expose their deepest insights so the rest of us can examine ourselves at a safe distance. What we read doubles our chances for growth as a human race.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to leave a comment or share with a friend.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2016

Published by lucindasagemidgorden

I grew up in the West, the descendant of people traveling by wagon train to a new life. Some of their determination and wanderlust became a part of me. I imagine them sitting around the campfire telling stories, which is why I became first a theatre artist, then a teacher and now a writer. They are all ways of telling stories.

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