Wow. What an incredible book. Gene Everlasting has definitely got me thinking a lot. In a strange way, reading this book about life, death, immortality, and the great beyond has comforted me.
I loved the story about how he told the room full of doctors/crew that he wrote Holy Shit. I read it to my husband and declared that when I grow old, I want to be Gene Logsdon.
For young people, the future is everything, but it is also fearsome in many ways because it is unknown. For the elderly there is just today. Maybe tomorrow will be another day and so on, but by concentrating on the NOW, the only time that truly exists, there is a kind of contentedness. One learns to appreciate every little detail of the NOW, which is really the secret of happiness for all ages.
For me, the old man, there was no future, as I have said. Oddly, the emptiness and disinterest that a futureless life suggests was not as deadening as it might seem. Without concern for the future to distract me, I could face the present moment with unconditional concentration.
Wow. This struck me. Hard. I've always been one for planning every aspect of my life. I've always had one year plans, five year plans, thirty year plans. Sometimes I forget to enjoy today because I'm worrying that if I don't get x done, I might not get to where I want to be in 20 years.
Nature never died completely, just slowed down in the cold time. Renewal was the constant, not death. Death was just the first step of renewal.
Composting has shown me this lesson. Everything decomposes and changes from "rotten food" to rich, beautiful earth and then changes into luscious plants and then into delectable vegetables.
I wanted May to last forever. But now I understood that it was only because nature changed every month, every day, every moment, that it could come again. Only through change is permanence achieved.
Thanks, Jennifer for the opportunity to be a part of this book club. I have enjoyed it immensely.
Cynthia: Thank YOU. You've made reading this sometimes lovely and sometimes challenging book such a pleasure. It's funny, but I underlined all of the same passages this week as you, plus this one, on page 175:
"Memories were the compost of the thinking process, enriching the mind world, never dying as long as there were people who kept on remembering ..."
And because I had some catching up to do from last week, I was especially struck by the second half of chapter 18, beginning with Gene's description of the best way to haul hay bales and continuing through how to fork manure, turn rusted bolts, pull up fence posts, and so on. It struck me that, in addition to passing this knowledge down to his kids, where it'll live on, he's also passing it down to us. Skill sharing is a little piece of immortality—and what HOMEGROWN is all about. I didn't learn this stuff from my own grandparents, so I'm especially thankful to learn it from Gene. I have a feeling I'll be revisiting those pages, and this whole book, again.
This was a really great book although, for me, a tough read. I don't know what exactly it was... too much truth? His writing is easy to read and enjoyable, I just had difficulty picking it up!
Cynthia, the passage you shared about death being the first step in renewal is highlighted twice now in my book.
thank you both for sharing this read with me!!!!