Every so often a book comes along to knock my knee caps off. This knocking off of my kneecaps is currently happening while I devour the final pages of "The Elegance of a Hedgehog" by Muriel Barbery. It's not a plot driven book, there are no car chases, animal beheadings or sexual tomfoolery. Nope. In short, it's a simple book brimming with refreshing insights of two protagonists, both autodidacts - one a 12 year old girl (Paloma) from a wealthy family and the other a middle aged concierge (Madame Michel). Here are some (and there are hundreds more, so read it if you can) juicy blips and beeps from its pages: Eternity for all its invisibility, we gaze at it.
To rich people it must seem that the ordinary little people - perhaps because their lives are more rarified, deprived of the oxygen of money and savoir-faire- experience human emotions with with less intensity and greater indifference. Since we were concierges, it was a given that death, for us, must be a matter of course, whereas for our privileged neighbors it carried all the weight of injustice and drama.
What is the point of intelligence if it is not to serve others?
Life. Everyone's military service.
It would be so much better if we could share our insecurity, if we could all venture inside ourselves and realize that green beans and vitamin c, however much they nurture us, cannot save our lives, nor sustain our souls.
There's so much humanity in a love of trees, so much nostalgia for our first sense of wonder, so much power in just feeling our own insignificance when we are surrounded by nature... yes, that's it: just thinking about trees and their indifferent majesty and our love for them teaches us how ridiculous we are - vile parasites squirming on the surface of the earth - and at the same time how deserving of life we can be, when we can honor this beauty that owes us nothing.