Tuesday, October 23, 2012

5 Lessons from Gone with the Wind

Apparently I didn't get enough book reports out of my system in high school—that almost seems impossible. Nevertheless, these are lessons I learned in reading Gone with the Wind.  I'm not saying they are lessons I have exceeded in accomplishing - these in many cases have been truly convicting.  I have had this nagging feeling, since starting Gone with the Wind, of heart ache.  I'm not sure if my hopes for the "greatest love story ever told" (I naively assumed a feel good) were being dashed by what I think is more accurately "a great love story tragedy" or if I really just became invested in the characters but either way I *felt* this book.

When I first started contemplating this post it was out of a pang in my gutt and I thought I must get my thoughts out there somehow... but I had no idea what it would turn into.  As I am writing and revising and coming to terms with my thoughts I am realizing this is a SUPER DUPER "keeping it real" post.  So I have come back up to the top here to write this little disclaimer that I share my heart and it ain't always pretty so if you are looking for a light-hearted post on GWTW this isn't the one to read...google on my friends there are some good ones out there but this one is personal and apparently I feel the need to share ;)

Here's the short side of it.  I put up walls and I put them up fast.  If I think I'm going to be hurt I get angry and pissy and stay-the-heck-away-from-me-y because I want whomever I fear is going to hurt me to get back, run in fear, leave me alone... better than being hurt and vulnerable!  right?!?  ummm no, not right but I do it time and again unless I can consciously stop myself.
And that my dears is exactly what I feel like Scarlet does.  I guess her wall is money and a do-what-I-want attitude. BUT they are walls baby!

So, without further ado, here are a few things
I have been pondering as my heart aches through this book:

Do I want to survive or thrive?  Gone with the Wind is by and large thematically regarded as being about survival.  Indeed Scarlet is a survivor, she doesn't settle - she bows up and Does (yes, with a capital D)... BUT does she ever thrive?  I beg to argue, NO; well not in the since of anything other than monetary thriving.  The girl got her money, I'll give her that.  BUT She is empty, alone, and lost outside that pursuit of money.  She lost respect, love, marriage, children, friendship—to name a few.  Maybe she succeeded in one area but she lost in all the others.  I want to thrive in all the areas she failed and sometimes (especially when contemplating being 30) I fear (being a middle-class American well provided for) that I have only succeeded like Scarlet.

Actually you should probably think about it!  Of course the famous line, "I won't think about it now, I'll think about it tomorrow" is Scarlet's mantra for getting past her hardships. I can relate to this.  If something is hard I would rather just go to sleep and not deal with it in life, in my head, or in my heart.  But I know, if something is riding heavy on my conscious not to put off the horror of it but take a moment to think about it and respond - I believe that if we all did this we would be better human beings for it. Heal quicker, love deeper, forgive faster...

Say your sorry sooner rather than later.  So many situations in the book escalated out of control due to pride.  It was for me as heart wrenching to read, as it is heart wrenching to live.  When confrontation in life happens being quick to think, not about my pride, but how to reconcile does not come naturally. When I get it right though, it serves to stop the downward spiral of relationships such as seen in Scarlet's. Have you ever said something that you really wish you hadn't, maybe it was something you said intentionally to be meanno we never do that I'm just kidding  Yeah well, my tongue is my biggest foe and I'm pretty good at wielding it as a destructive weapon. So I say things to just be mean, and while I generally get the response I was wanting from the poor (often unsuspecting) opposition I usually quickly regret it.  What I am learning though is, when I see the ugliness my tongue has caused  my pride is what keeps me from not wanting to seek forgiveness and reconciliation.  My pride allows me to find quick justification for my actions; so there is often a lot to break down before the apology actually happens. But it must happen. When it doesn't the unspoken hurt, tension, bitterness all build up just as Scarlet so adequately portrays for us time and again. And it is so perfectly summed up at the end of the sequel "misunderstandings can rule your life".

Say "I love You" or express love to those important in your life. Scarlet failed too many in her life by never extending or showing her love to/for them.  It wasn't until it was too late (failed relationship or death) did she realize her love and realize her need for those souls in her life but by then it was the last hour and so much pain had stood where love could have. It breaks my heart and I worry sometimes that the people most near and dear to my heart don't hear from me enough just how much I love them and are thankful for them in my life, especially my family. 

Don't get so worked up when people tell you the truth! Rhett was constantly calling Scarlet out on her schemes, thoughts, motives no matter how tricky she thought she was being.  She hated when he spoke plainly to her not masking the truth.  Isn't that just how we are when someone calls us out.  so quick to deny or be resentful even when they are dead right.  If only she has treasured someone knowing her so well, telling the truth to her.  I know I don't respond well when people point out the ugliness in me but when it is someone who loves me it is the most blessed and wonderful feeling to know that they love me even in my ugliness...just how Melanie loved Scarlet.    

There are a lot of side notes and tangents I could run on and on looking from different angles but these are the 5 lessons I have learned about myself and how I relate to people in this world from the tale of Scarlet's life that has broken my heart... hopefully for the better.

"Oh how I do run on."


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