Sunday, February 24, 2013

Not Just Another Travel Book

A Quiet Moment with Sue Monk Kidd

. . . with these words he revealed to me a reason to write fiction: because it creates empathy.

Is it possible that the experience of empathy is really nothing more, and nothing less, than the breakthrough of an awareness that we humans share an intrinsic unity? Are we indulging in what Ralph Waldo Emerson called a “larger imbibing of the common heart?” In Emerson’s “common heart” every person’s “particular being is contained and made one with all other.” It is the place of our deep and common belonging. Albert Einstein must have been referring to this place when he said that we are part of a whole and any attempt to experience ourselves as separate is an optical delusion of consciousness. Walt Whitman, who never seemed to suffer from this optical delusion, expressed the interconnection poetically when he wrote: “I am large; I contain multitudes.” We all do.

Since then I have come to love Kafka’s words: “A book must be the ice-axe to break the frozen sea within us.” In a world that often seems to lurch toward losing touch with its inherent kinship, I am glad for stories that possess such beautiful blades.

* * * 
Kidd reminds me that Sunset Over the Equator is:

Not Just another travel book
   but rather a woman travel writer's trans- cultural experience
     in search of epiphany

         - a sudden intuitive leap of understanding, especially 
                  through an ordinary but striking occurrence