This morning at 3 am, I was stirred awake from a weird dream that I couldn’t remember and a song by Roxy Music called More Than This which I couldn’t get out of head for the last couple of days.
I have had a few niggling thoughts about my work of late and I haven’t been sleeping well. Last night, these concerns woke me because I had been worried about how to vocalise them.
However, my thoughts about work then turned to thoughts about JD Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye and Ernest Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls.
I had wondered why – and if – there was a connection between the books and the song that kept going around and around in my head.
What was the connection to all these?
At 3am, I decided that there WAS a connection BUT now, the day after, I don’t remember what!
It’s weird how at that time in the early morning, everything just seems to make sense. At times I feel that’s when I’m at my most lucid (but I’m also in a dream state). Everything seems to fall into place. But, then you fall back asleep and when you wake up in the morning, you feel cheated because you evoked something so beautiful, so creative, so meaningful for the explanation and yet you can’t even remember what it was the next day.
I think I have written the best poems, concocted the best stories and come up with the most beautiful songs with evocative lyrics at 3am.
That’s how I feel about Hemingway, Salinger and Roxy Music. I made a connection – but what was it?
Well anyway, for the last few weeks, I have been reading Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls and I finished it recently. It was tough going. It’s not written like his other novels and there were times when I went on some rabbit holes researching on the Spanish civil war.
In the book, the protagonist Robert Jordan finds himself in Spain fighting for the rebels against the fascists.
At the beginning of the war, he was excited of his involvement but over time, he started to become despondent. He began to question what and why he was in Spain so he was feeling a bit low. (Link: Much like what I’m feeling like my work of late). That is, until Maria turned up. He fell in love with her and their love gave him another breath of wind, another reason to live.
I feel like I’m Robert Jordan waiting for my Maria to turn up when it comes to work in the short term, my life in the long.
Meanwhile, in The Catcher in the Rye, Holden Caulfield was going through his own internal turmoil, angry and frustrated that no one heard him out with what he wanted to say. He didn’t have a voice. He felt that no one could see what he saw. No one gave him a chance as he tried to understand the ‘phonies’ around him. He too, wanted more to life.
To overcome the difficult time I was having with For Whom the Bell Tolls, I decided to read, Joanna Rakoff’s My Salinger Year and it was a delightful book to get me back into the reading mojo. Most of all, I loved the little snippets of learning about JD Salinger and his eccentric need to be a recluse and maintain his privacy. (There’s a whole other blog post about this because I believe that he can teach us a lot about copyright, maintaining the artists rights to how their work is created and consumed, but let’s leave it at that for now).
I had wondered why both books were read about the same time – why THOSE particular books from THOSE authors who had both seen horrific sights during the war – and it struck me on how similar the themes in their books were.
It was only at 3 o’clock in the morning when I came to the conclusion that we (the collective we – ME, Hemingway and Salinger) were all questioning the “WHY”. For them, it was about the futility of war and the importance of LIFE. Of having a reason and a purpose to live.
Maybe I was questioning my work – and the next phase of my life. I need to find a new purpose because we have this beautiful life to live and love. If what you’re doing doesn’t breathe life into you, why do it?
More Than This.
Life has to be More Than This.
And therein, is my link to Roxy Music’s song. (Of course in my dream state, it was far more eloquent).
My Book Review on My Salinger Year, A Spattering of For Whom the Bell Tolls & Getting Emotional with The Catcher in the Rye
Lost In Translation
I chose this clip to share this song well, because it’s beautiful. Also the movie is about deeper experiences of alienation and disconnection in life and facing crisis of identity.