My friend Jill introduced me to The Hunger Games a few months ago (you may remember Jill as the mother of the best baby in the world). Even as she was describing the book to me I thought, “I’m probably not going to like this.” But Jill was very persuasive in her insistence that I should read it.
I was so disturbed by it that I had to finish it. Do you ever have that experience – when something is so disturbing that you have to finish it in order to get it out of your system? I do occasionally with both books and movies. I know that the nightmares will be worse if I don’t experience the resolution. So I finished the book.
As I finished the last page I thought, “Good. Now that’s done. I’m DEFINITELY not reading books 2 and 3.”
You probably can guess the next bit. The story sat so prominently in my memory that I couldn’t let go of it. Within three weeks I had given in and also devoured books two and three.
I’ve never been a fan of post-apocalyptic dystopian fiction because I’m easily disturbed by scenes of suffering and cruelty. Yet over the last two months I find myself unexpectedly drawn in. I’ve read Lois Lowry’s “The Giver” and started Ally Condie’s “Matched” series. I find them disturbing, but oddly compelling.
My friend Jeffrey Sumber, a psychotherapist in Chicago, got me thinking about why that might be with a post on Facebook: “So for those of you who have read the Hunger Games, help me understand your opinion as to what young children, tweens, teens…learn from it; why is it relevant to kids these days?”
Here’s what I’ve come to – the heroes of these stories are usually teenagers. As they come into their time of awakening and quickening, they have the courage to question the assumptions that everyone else takes for granted. That quest for self-knowledge is so dangerous to the status quo that the society must quell it quickly and decisively.
I was lost for a lot of years. Between depression and fear, I wandered aimlessly. Which isn’t to say that I have nothing good from those years, because I certainly do. But to say that I have begun my awakening into who I truly am over the last five years is no exaggeration.
In some ways, I am like that teenager in the book who is just coming into consciousness and discovering that the assumptions upon which she has built her life, and upon which society has built its structure, may not work very well for her. And there are people who don’t like that – not one little bit (see: man telling me that I’m going to hell.) I dipped my toe into the waters of LinkedIn by posting my “Why I won’t follow a guru” missive and was met with a bunch of fire and brimstone. It’s safe to say that they’re not looking for someone who questions assumptions the way that I do. That doesn’t mean I’ll stop or back down, but I will be more discernment about how and where I share.
I resonate with these characters. Some of Katniss’ fierceness lives within me. Cassia’s curiosity and determination live within me. Jonas’ sense of integrity and compassion live within me.
I am grateful that I don’t have to live in their worlds, but I see a piece of myself in them.
I had hoped to see The Hunger Games movie this weekend, but unsurprisingly it was sold out. Perhaps in the coming week. Plus Jill (who very rudely moved across the country a couple months ago and took her precious child with her) and I agreed we’d see it on the same night and then Skype afterward, so I really should see if she wants to keep that date.
As for you, dear readers – May the odds ever be in your favor.
Speaking of absolutely nothing related…the second half of my interview with Sheila Callaham at Magnetize Success went up today. We talk about relationships, grief, perfectionism and joy. It was a lot to pack into 15 minutes, but we had a great time doing it! :-) Click here to listen.
For those of you who missed the live show last week, my interview with Nancy Brook of Love Your Path is also available online. It was an hour-long conversation that ranged far and wide. We ended up talking about several things I never expected! It was also a great time and I hope you’ll take some time to listen to it. Here’s an idea – download them to your MP3 player and listen on your way to work for a little hit of down-to-earth inspiration!