i've been on a nonfiction kick lately, drawn to the biography and essay sections when i head over to
the provo library. the other day, though, a novel caught my eye as i was on my way to check out. it had a metallic cover, which always helps.
i just finished it: my name is memory by ann brashares, the author of the sisterhood of the traveling pants series. the main premise of the story is that every person has lived before, perhaps hundreds of years' worth of lives, dozens of births and deaths. the main character, daniel, is special (of course--he's the main character of a somewhat supernatural novel); he can remember all of his past lives, which makes each of his existences interesting in that he knows that this life is not his only one--he has lived, loved, and died before, and he will again. this is interesting to me mainly because this, in part, is what the gospel is all about. not that we have lived many times before in various reincarnations and milieus, but that this mortal life isn't all we have. we have lived before, and we will live again after we die.
the other really interesting idea that brashares introduces is that your soul, the thing that you do carry with you through all these lives, in some way or another, makes an impression on each body and life that you inhabit. the female protagonist, lucy, has a scar on her left arm from an injury she received in a past life. some of her likes and dislikes, fears and insecurities, inherent qualities, stem from things that happened to her before she was lucy. i know that's true in reality, too. our personalities stay with us. there is something holy and eternal about each of us that transcends mortality and ties us to divinity. we are incredibly unique, but we are known.
i listened to an episode of this american life last week called "switched at birth." like every episode, this one featured a fascinating story about two women who were switched in a hospital as newborns, the mother who knew as soon as she got home, and what happened to their lives when she finally broke the news 43 years later. this is obviously a crazy thing to contemplate, but something, related to the ideas in this book, really struck me. each of the girls, when they met their biological families, realized how much they were like those people and not the family they were raised with. one of the women, marty, was outgoing and funny and popular, just like her birth family, the mcdonalds, and vice versa with the other family. this is such a weird thing to me. isn't a lot of your personality formed by your environment? why didn't marty become more like the family she was raised with, the millers? this suggests that much of our personality is actually genetic rather than socially constructed. crazy!
just some random thoughts for your tuesday.