I’m getting into the book, The Road, by Cormac McCarthy. Sadly, this is my first Pulitzer winning book. Better late than never? Anyway, I’m about half-way through it and it’s starting to get pretty interesting. I refused to read the dust jacket summary or Amazon’s, I just wanted to read it without influence. I have found the writing unique compared to other mainstream authors. What I really like is that it’s very simple. Sentences are concise. The is language simple (although there are some vocabulary gems). But what is really getting me with the publication is the father.
It’s a simplicity that almost seems to have become complicated.
In a nutshell, it seems that there was some apocalyptic event. There’s a boy and a father (no names). The boy seems to be at most 10 years old and maybe as young as 7 or 8. The dad is probably close to his 40’s. There’s no mother that I can speak of. She’s been mentioned a couple of times and it seems she took matters into her own hands. In any event, the book has shown a father that is sure of a lot of things of life and how to handle it in the situation they are in. The handling of his son is quite impressive too. He’s certainly coming from a great place and is looking out for the best interest of the child. He tends to make the right calls as far as where he goes, what he allows his son to see and hear, and most importantly, patient. In a situation where food, water, shelter, and even sunlight are scarce, this father really has it together. I’ve yet to read much negative emotion from the text. Or any emotion for that matter. He’s certainly stoic in that he has resided himself to the fact that they are living moment to moment. And that he simply has accepted what is in these moments. The future is not even a consideration. Talk of the past is almost non-existent. He is resolved each day to take care of his son and to keep moving. It’s a simplicity that almost seems to have become complicated.
The search for the lack of daily necessities would be instinct for us all. But what’s making it complicated is that not only is it scarce, but you must avoid other people at all costs. Survival of the fittest in this case is not some punchline, it’s for real. You must take care of yourself as others will take care of themselves. Trust simply isn’t part of the equation.
What I’m loving about the book is the dads detachment from each situation. He is under the philosophy that he needs certain things to survive and he’ll either figure out a way or he won’t. He doesn’t have emotion involved in his decisions. He doesn’t attach emotion to the situations he runs into. He simply tries to figure out the safest way, does it, then moves on. Moment by moment. Understanding that emotion is a waste of energy. That by taking on each situation one at a time with logic is the only way to stay sane and survive.
In it’s simplicity, comes strength.
Ironically, this is the only way to live in the real world too. But we don’t. We are comfortable. We want more because we’re used to getting more when we want. We don’t appreciate life. How fragile it is. How meaningful it is. We push through with expectation and entitlement. We have become too used to good living. We need to fight. Fight for every moment. Fight to make sense of why we have been chosen to be here. Fight to find a crack in society to fit into. Fight for freedom and happiness that can only come from detachment from all material things and needless wants. It’s the good fight. It’s the right fight. And I wish it was the only fight. We can learn from fiction as well as nonfiction. This father character seems to be surviving on will. A will that doesn’t need to be fed luxury. A will that only craves basic human necessities. In it’s simplicity, comes strength. And hopefully, this strength sees them through the end. If it doesn’t, at least he (they) can say they lived on their terms, gave it all they had, and can be at peace knowing this. That feeling sorry for yourself will simply kill you that much sooner. Not because you lacked skills, but because you allowed shame.