Thursday, July 4, 2013

The Glass Castle: Memoir of A Woman Much Stronger Than Glass

It's now the dead of summer. With summer follows a bit of space in our schedules (we hope, anyway). If you're looking for a good summer read, consider The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls.

For me, the book provided more than mere entertainment. Jeannette's is a story we could all learn from. Growing up far below the poverty line, she learned how to become self-efficient, smart, and resilient to whatever life threw her way; and let me tell you, life chucked her some pretty nasty dirt.

Here's a short summary from Goodreads, you can find the rest at: Glass Castle
Jeannette Walls grew up with parents whose ideals and stubborn nonconformity were both their curse and their salvation. Rex and Rose Mary Walls had four children. In the beginning, they lived like nomads, moving among Southwest desert towns, camping in the mountains. Rex was a charismatic, brilliant man who, when sober, captured his children’s imagination, teaching them physics, geology, and above all, how to embrace life fearlessly. Rose Mary, who painted and wrote and couldn’t stand the responsibility of providing for her family, called herself an “excitement addict.” Cooking a meal that would be consumed in fifteen minutes had no appeal when she could make a painting that might last forever. More
While turning through the memories of Jeannette's childhood, I couldn't help my jealous thoughts. Perhaps, never having lived in poverty, I'm like the anxious house cat trying to sneak its way out the back door, oblivious to the harsh realities of the wild.

Nevertheless, the pages of Jeannette's story stirred me deeply, as all good books should. Her memoir led me to a simple fact: security isn't everything.

Security is favorable, it's what we are conditioned to desire. It's practical, too. Nobody likes falling out of a car zooming down the highway and waiting for hours with a bloody nose and gravel-torn skin, debating whether daddy will actually stop and turn around for you (one of Jeannette's memories).

Yet, with too much security, something within our human soul suffers, I'm convicted of it. People become bored, and as a result, boring.

With that being said, life is not a matter of what we do, but how we think. Living is entirely a mindset.

You can be as poor as dirt, never have a real place to call home, or new clothes, or consistent meals, or reliable parents, or friends, and still feel content and okay about life. That might seem like a stretch, but it's Jeannette's story.

Her childhood goes to show that some of the richest, most brilliant experiences of life can still came from a life in complete poverty.

We all need to remember that.

As we work hours and hours at our nine to five jobs, remember. Remember that happiness and fulfillment have little connection to the zeros behind our paychecks. As we save and save for that new car, bigger house, better school, remember. Providing for a family consists of more than a roof and a weekly grocery list and the latest technology.

More importantly, providing for a family means investing in their souls. It means taking your children outside and looking up at the stars together, explaining the names and stories behind the constellations and asking each one of those excited little faces to pick out their favorite, because Christmas presents will come and go but stars will last for lightyears.

Providing for a family means showing your children they don't need the weight of possessions, the confirmation of other's approval, or the comfort of a really nice home. Instead, providing for them means showing (not just telling) them life has a lot more to offer. It means challenging their thinking, inspiring them with the way you choose to live, and truly believing in the potential that they can only reach on their own; this is the rutty, more authentic beauty of provision.

I wouldn't suggest becoming an alcoholic, or losing yourself in your own dreams, or refusing to work, or neglecting to feed your children. I wouldn't suggest running from the police, or laying in bed for days, or stealing your kid's grocery money, or leaving and never saying when or if you'll come back.

Rather, I would suggest, no matter who you are, what you do, or the stage of life your family is in, to intentionally be aware of the way you think. The truest forms of joy and fulfillment lie just above your shoulders, a little behind your eyes, and squarely between your ears. Dear Reader, it's the simple, little things in life that produce life's fullness; things like intimacy, love, and peace. All things, I will modestly point out, that have nothing to do with your social or financial status, or the quality of your lawn.


Jeannette Walls

Jeanette Walls - BIOGRAPHY

Jeannette Walls was born in Phoenix, Arizona. Her parents moved the family around the southwest before settling for a time in Welch, West Virginia. It was in West Virginia, as she entered her teens, that she was often mistreated. At age 17 she moved to New York City. With the help of part-time jobs, she eventually entered Columbia University’s Barnard College, where she graduated with honors.
She had come to love journalism while working on her high school newspaper so she tried working as a gopher for New York Magazine while she attended college. She eventually moved to the business section and ended up a news reporter for USA Today. Her first gossip column was written once again at New York Magazine. She moved on to Esquire Magazine’s gossip column and worked at MSNBC as an online columnist and television segment reporter for eight years (leaving in 2007), before deciding to turn her full attention to writing books. She now lives in Virginia and is married to another writer, John Taylor. 

“We are not rich by what we possess but by what we can do without.” 
― Immanuel Kant


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