Last month, I read N. D. Wilson's Notes from the Tilt-A-Whirl.
Well, read is the wrong word. I experienced it.
This book had me swinging from snow-melt streams to small children laughing.
It made me replay my own memories and dive into the author's descriptions.
Notes from the Tilt-A_Whirl starts off in familiar territory and then opens up our horizons so that we see that our daily life in this world is an adventure in the amazing.
Death by Living is another turn-you-upside-down-open-your-eyes book.
We've probably all heard the phrase "You're dyin' from the moment you're born."
This is usually considered to be a cynical assessment, and sometimes the person saying it means it that way. But here's the thing: It's true.
And that truth, rightly understood, is what makes this book so powerful.
We need to spend our lives fully, or to use the C. S. Lewis phrase that I love, King Tirian's thought for how he wants to die in The Last Battle: selling his life dearly.
It must be a kind of combination of living with your hands open, giving it all, and living so that you take it all in, in the reality of the moment.
This book is a meditation on life and death, a meditation that lets us see the snowflakes rushing at us when we're night driving, that makes us pause and watch the slow golden float of dust in a sunbeam, that takes us back to our ancestors close or distant, and all the people who lived for them and died for them, whose choices in their life gave us our lives.
This is a book that you will want to read slow and contemplate, but then you will want to read fast because it makes so much sense and you are being pulled into the stories that the author tells, identifying with them.
Some quotes (because I can't resist)
"The God who looked on you with joy when you were small and racing across His gift of green grass on His gift of feet beneath His gift of sky watched by His gift of a mother with His gift of Love in His gift of her eyes, is the same God who will look on you as that race finally ends. He is the same, but we have changed, between our opening lines and our final page."
"Lay your life down. Your heartbeats cannot be hoarded. Your reservoir of breaths is draining away. You have hands, blister them while you can. You have bones, make them strain. They can carry nothing in the grave. You have lungs, let them spill with laughter."
"This (The fact that we can't hold every impression of every moment) shouldn't inspire melancholy; it should only tinge the sweet with the bitter. Don't resent the moments simply because they cannot be frozen. Taste them. Savor them. Give thanks for daily bread. Manna doesn't keep overnight. More will come in the morning."
When a story is told: "An experience is always created, captured, given and hopefully received. The gift is always one of vicarious experience. A critic told me recently that she remembers scenes from one of my newer adventure novels (The Dragon's Tooth) not as scenes from a book, but more like personal memories from her own experiences. She couldn't have made me happier.
Fiction loves to thwart the filing systems of the mind.
And the mind loves to be thwarted."
Thank you Booksneeze for sending me me Death by Living to review.
I'm passing this one on to at least three family members.