Paulette Jiles’ “News of the World”, the focus of the library’s latest fiction book group discussion, is the story of the remarkable journey of 70-year-old Captain Jefferson Kidd, who makes his living, in 1870, traveling from rural town to rural town in northern Texas, reading aloud from newspapers to paying audiences. Along the way, he is asked to return a 10-year-old orphan, who had been kidnapped by Indians, to her relatives in San Antonio. Reluctantly, and for a small fee, he agrees. Despite horses and wagons, and one fascinating gun battle, the novel feels very prescient as the pair travels through lands in which hostilities are high with people at odds over Texas politics. Kidd makes a point not to read items directly related to those mounting tensions, and limits his repertoire to stories from far-off places, lest any fistfights break out.
Living in a world full of the debris of tumult, angst, and joy, is a feat that many of us try our best to master daily. When pressures of the day-to-day are compounded by what the day’s news brings, it can be hard to maintain a sense of hope and optimism. In the last month we were treated to several introspective and optimistic voices, like that of Brain Pickings’ Maria Popova, who, during a podcast of a conversation she had with On Being’s Krista Tippett, said, “There’s so much goodness in the world. And of course we just have to show up for it and refuse to leave.” A wonderful perspective, for sure, it seems that in order to achieve this, there may be a need to edit our individual universes because, as Popova continues, ” ..we never see the world exactly as it is. We see it as we hope it will be or we fear it might be…”
The question becomes, what does the world look like to you? In light of the current climate, taking time to process our thoughts is key. When Tippett appeared in conversation with Gideon Rosen as part of a library sponsored event, she suggested that when we are faced with something that is unsettling, we might choose to create something instead of merely react to it. Making conscious decisions about how we handle information coming to us from all angles is another element to consider. Editing what we allow into our thoughts as the Facebook and Twitter feeds fly at us with an endless, rapid stream of words may very well be necessary to our well being. And, as we’re sorting through all of life’s challenges, we might consider that everyone could stand a little editing.
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