On a rare afternoon of not looking after my daughter (she was being babysat by her uncle and auntie), my SO and I took the opportunity to walk around the nearby city, taking a break from being parents and instead just being ourselves, together.
We stumbled across a very small market stall in the shopping centre, its tables stacked with books. A group of children and a few adults were manning the stall, selling second-hand paperbacks and hardbacks to collect money for their, I wanna say, swimming team(?).
Always up for browsing books, we took some time to peruse. I found both “Americanah” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, as well as “Memoirs of a Geisha” by Arthur Golden, which is a novel I’ve always kind of wanted but never gotten round to buying.
The woman behind the market stall took my £2 for both books, and pleasantly reminisced about how “Memoirs of a Geisha” was one of her favourite books of all time. So yeah, I was excited to dive deep into this small glimpse of Japanese culture.
I didn’t realise how much I was going to fall in love with this book – it is certainly one of my top 5 books I’ve ever read. There are some wonderful quotes that I wanted to share with you, just to show you how heart-grabbing and wise this novel is:
“This is why dreams can be such dangerous things: they smoulder on like a fire does, and sometimes consume us completely.”
“Stumbling along in life is a poor way to proceed. You must learn how to find the time and place for things.”
“We human beings are only a part of something very much larger. When we walk along, we may crush a beetle or simply cause a change in the air so that a fly ends up where it might never have gone otherwise. And if we think of the same example but with ourselves in the role of the insect, and the larger universe in the role we’ve just played, it’s perfectly clear that we’re affected everyday by forces over which we have no more control than the poor beetle has over our gigantic foot as it descends upon it. What are we to do? We must use whatever methods we can to understand the movement of the universe around us and time our actions so that we are not fighting the currents, but moving with them.”
“We all know that a winter scene, though it may be covered over one day, with even the trees dressed in shawls of snow, will be unrecognisable the following spring. Yet I had never imagined such a thing could occur withing our very selves.”
“Nothing is bleaker than the future, except perhaps the past.”
“Sometimes we get through adversity only be imagining what the world might be like if our dreams should ever come true.”
“Of course I was happy to sit and listen, but I understood perfectly well that the Chairman wasn’t telling these things to me because he wanted me to know them. He was clearing them from his mind, just like draining water from a bucket.”
“I’ve lived my life again just telling it to you.”
“But now I know that our world is no more permanent than a wave rising on the ocean. Whatever our struggles and triumphs, however we may suffer them, all too soon they bleed into a wash, just like watery ink on paper.”
“Adversity is like a strong wind. I don’t mean just that it holds us back from places we might otherwise go. It also tears away from us all but the things that cannot be torn, so that afterward we see ourselves as we really are, and not merely as we might like to be.”
“We lead our lives like water flowing down a hill, going more or less in one direction until we splash into something that forces us to find a new course.”