Wizard & Glass:
Well it has just been a Shardik-sized beast of a week for yours truly, the final stretch of my family’s move from Los Angeles to Barbados. I spent five days hauling most of our stuff into storage containers while my wife sold all the stuff we didn’t want to keep on craigslist. This weekend was a gauntlet of donating all the unsellable stuff, throwing out all the undonatable stuff, and scrambling to clear out and get rid of our car. Then today came the grand finale: a cross-country flight with a baby, a car seat, a stroller, four carry-on bags, six checked bags (all pushing the weight limit), and only two adults to carry it all.
Now it’s late, we are finally settled in the AirBnB where we’ll quarantine before continuing on to the Caribbean, and this blog post is due to go up tomorrow morning. I had planned to write it on the five hour flight, but only on the way to the airport did I realize that—wouldn’t you know it?—I somehow read the wrong chapters this week. I thought I was being so smart by listening to the audiobook while I packed, but due to nothing but human error I ended up reading next week’s chapters and somehow—maybe a combination of being over-tired and having read this book at least half a dozen times—I didn’t realize that I had skipped eighty pages.
So this morning, after discovering my mistake, I considered my options. I could write the post on the plane anyway without doing the reading (it’s not like I don’t know what happens) and fake it; I could not write anything, just rest, relax, and explain to all my fantastic and understanding readers that I was simply spent and didn’t have time to write a post this week; lastly, I could hunker down, do the proper reading on the flight (in between diaper changes) and then stay up late upon arrival to make my deadline.
Well, as you can see this post went up Tuesday morning, right on time (unless something really terribly happens between now and then, haha…) so it’s no surprise what choice I made, but it was a choice inspired by the text, and that’s why I’m talking about it here. I opened my Kindle and started reading the correct chapters more out of boredom than out of any sense of determination or discipline. I figured I would read until my eyes drooped and I passed out from sheer exhaustion and then give up, tempted away from work by in-flight movies.
But of course, if I planned to give up on something, I should have read something other than The Dark Tower.
This week’s reading almost instantly inspired me to bear down and follow through, and it’s all thanks to Sai Susan Delgado. Ever since she met Roland, she has been struggling with this internal conflict, wondering whether she is honoring the face of her father or forgetting it. Now, finally, she has answered her own question.
”No,” Susan said, “I have been true.”– Wizard & Glass, p. 699
And so she realized, she had been. A great weight seemed to slip off her shoulders at the thought.
Reading those words, I understood that the only way I was going to come out of this feeling good about myself was to do the hard thing. But suddenly the hard thing didn’t seem so hard, because I also understood that the result doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter if this is a bad blog post—hell, even if it’s the worst thing I’ve ever written—I did the work and I finished it. I have been true and that’s all that counts.
Susan has the worst death of any character in the book, burnt at the stake by her own Auntie stuffy-guy style. But despite her horribly painful death, I now think she might actually have the happiest ending of anyone. Her acceptance that she is a good person, that she has been true, gives her a freedom and sense of contentedness that the other characters never find.
Jonas still carries the shame of his exile from Gilead, so much so that Roland’s mere mention of it visibly shakes him. Roland in turn will be ashamed of what’s about to happen in Hambry for the rest of his life. And as for Aunt Cordelia Susan literally marks her with ash, saying “I forgive ye, Aunt… For what ye did to yer brother and my father… For what ye were a part of… But wear that, all the same… Wash it off if ye like, but I think ye’ll wear it in yer heart yet awhile.” (p. 754)
These characters might not have slow, suffering deaths like Susan, but they all die eventually (except Roland, and what happens to him is even worse imho). We’re all going to die one day. At least when Susan dies, she dies knowing that she hasn’t forgotten the face of her father after all. And when I die, I’ll know that at least I haven’t forgotten the face of my blog.