The Name of the Wind sat patiently waiting for me to read it while I was busy reading other books. I went through a lot of changes in my life last year. I faced a lot of truths - truths about other people in my life and truths about myself. I had known these truths inside my own heart and head for a long time, but I needed to change my life on the outside to reflect what I knew on the inside. This was not an easy task. It was a long year.
On the fateful day I chose The Name of the Wind from my bookshelf, I was feeling almost like myself again. I only needed a little more balm to help some old wounds heal enough for me to count them as new scars. I needed something that day, something that would refresh my soul and make me believe in something again. I needed a magical distraction, an escape, for awhile. I needed a break from all the reality I had been handling.
I remember reaching for the book, running my hand over it, and reading the back cover - reminding myself of why I had originally bought it. I smiled a sad little smile at it and hoped it was the medicine I needed. I curled up in my favorite chair with my soft, purple blankie and a hot cup of coffee. I could have selected any unread book from my shelf, but I'm so glad I chose that one...or, perhaps, it chose me.
The Name of the Wind is a medieval tale about a man named Kvothe. The novel is written as a story inside a story. In other words, there is "present day" going on in a medieval inn where a man is telling a story. The story he tells is about Kvothe's life, and how Kvothe became a legendary hero. It is a great adventure story, but on its edges (and at its core) it is a love story. I didn't say 'romance,' I said 'love'. (There's a difference, you know.) Love of family. Love of friends. (and, yes, eventually...) Love of one woman.
The author, Patrick Rothfuss, has a way with words that makes me laugh and sigh and smile and re-read. He also has a quick wit and is great at writing banter between characters. It is the way he turns a phrase that had me tabbing passages because I just loved the way the words fell together. The scenes with Kvothe and a minor character, Auri, are some of my favorite and always ended up with tabs because I enjoy the way they talk to each other. Trust me, there is a lot to enjoy about this novel.
In the end, I found much more than the balm I was looking for when I started the book. I found a writer I could admire. I have become a fan of Patrick Rothfuss. I love to read his facebook page, watch his podcasts, and hear him interviewed. He seems to be a down-to-earth kind of person with a wicked and warped sense of humor who doesn't take himself too seriously. How can you not like a guy like that? He is currently working on the third book to The Kingkiller Chronicles.
Oh, yes, I should tell you this book is the first book in The Kingkiller Chronicle series. I didn't know that when I began reading it. As I have said before, I don't like to read series of books until they are all out - if I can help it. The second book is The Wise Man's Fear. I already own it, but keep putting off starting it until I have an idea of when the third is coming out. No one knows when it's coming out - including Rothfuss - which is kind of a good-hearted joke to many people. Everyone gives him crap about it. :)
While I'm waiting, I have read other books. However, once I decided to blog about this book and looked at my tabbed quotes, I began reading it again. I couldn't seem to help myself. It's unusual for me to re-read a book so soon. That should tell you something. (Translation: It should tell you to read the book!)
I'll leave you with one of my favorite passages from the book:
...He hesitated, struggling to find the words he wanted. "You see, there's a fundamental connection between seeming and being. Every Fae child knows this, but you mortals never seem to see. We understand how dangerous a mask can be. We all become what we pretend to be."
Chronicler relaxed a bit, sensing familiar ground. "That's basic psychology. You dress a beggar in fine clothes, people treat him like a noble, and he lives up to their expectations."
"That's only the smallest piece of it," Bast said. "The truth is deeper than that. It's..." Bast floundered for a moment. "It's like everyone tells a story about themselves inside their own head. Always. All the time. That story makes you what you are. We build ourselves out of that story."
"We understand how dangerous a mask can be. We all become what we pretend to be."ReplyDelete
"It's like everyone tells a story about themselves inside their own head. Always. All the time. That story makes you what you are. We build ourselves out of that story."
These quotes really hit home for me, especially at this time of my life. I've found myself reflecting on my life a lot as of late. I have worn a few different mask in my life, and am just now realizing how dangerous or damaging this may be. I'm not really sure if I know who I truly am.
I've lived this life as clueless child who's first memorable accomplishment was walking home by myself in second grade, a scared shitless junior high kid, who's first strong memory of the first day at a new school was "Why are there so many guys named Mike here, and why do they have their names on their shoes."
I found sports to be a great confidence builder for me. Especially football, where the helmet and pads presumably masked me from fear and injury, until I got hurt.
My high school years began to mold me. Myself and my close group of friends were the coolest kids in school, without really trying. We were a diverse group of jocks, nerds, and hoods. I found my first love, and my first hearbreak. Too young to understand either. Through a friend at another school, I met my future wife, and baby's momma, from a third school.
My Dad passed away too early. I got married too early. My early adulthood seemed to fly by.
I've worn the mask of husband, father, provider, divorcee,
entrepreneur, gangster, gambler, badass.
I felt the badass mask had served me well, protecting me from physical harm and heartbreak. Funny how someone will crack your wall and get in, and before you know it, heartbreak all over again. Then you wake up and your back aches or your knee hurts, and you realized you were'nt really protected form anything. You're just an old guy who still feels like a little kid.
It's interesting that I've only made two real friendships since high school with people I trust. These two, and a few from school, are the only ones I will let get close. I just wonder what I missed wearing that mask.
I think I know what I want for the rest of my life, and I am trying to work towards it.
I'm tired of wearing mask.
Jimmy, I had the same heartfelt reaction to that quote that you did. I really appreciate everything you said. I hope it helps to know that you're not the only one that feels that way. Many people feel that way, some just aren't brave enough to admit it to themselves.Delete
Like you, I've taken a good, long look at my own life. Some things I would change if I could, some things I wouldn't. When I was young, I wore masks because it was what I was taught to do. In some cases, it was what I was forced to do. As I grew up, I didn't think of myself as wearing a mask, as much as I thought that I was compromising what I wanted for the good of others and to "keep the peace." I didn't want to disappoint anyone and I thought it was the right thing to do. I tried to be what everyone wanted me to be. Sometimes, that's OK - but you lose a little part of yourself when you compromise too much for too long.
I've always known who I am, I was just afraid to show it to everyone else. I'm not afraid anymore. I'm not as guarded as I once was. I am who I am and if others don't like it,...or don't understand it,...I don't feel the need to fix it or explain it to their liking. It is what it is. Life is too short to wear a mask - it's suffocating.
And, by the way, I had to smile when I read, "You're just an old guy who still feels like a little kid." I want you to know you're not alone in that, either. I remember when I was a teenager, my mom used to tell me that, while she looked whatever age she was (forty-something, back then), she never quite got used to her own reflection. She'd say, "Kim, I know how I look to you, but inside I'm still feel like I'm sixteen."
Jimmy, I know it's been many years since we were in high school. I know on the outside I look like a mature, responsible, grown-up. Let me assure you, my friend, I am sixteen on the inside, and I think I always will be. And you know what? I'm good with that. ;)