The Sum of Our Days

A fabulous memoir by Isabel Allende.  I read it a couple of years ago, but turned back to its pages last night for some reason.  I won’t even attempt to say anything that Allende can’t say better herself. Some of my favorite passages:

Never do harm, and wherever possible do good.

All the air blew out of our rage in an instant, and deep in our bones we felt a grief as vast as the Pacific Ocean, a pain we hadn’t wanted to admit out of pure and simple pride.

What does imagination feed on, anyway?  In my experience, on memories, the vast world, the people I know, and also the persons and voices I carry within to help me on the journey of living and writing.  My grandmother used to say that space is filled with presences, of what has been, is, and will be.

Love is a lightning bolt that strikes suddenly, changing us.

The entire tribe was there to celebrate her, and once more I found that in an emergency you toss overboard the things that are not essential, that is, nearly everything.  In the end, after a thorough lightening of loads and taking account, it turns out that the one thing that’s left is love.

And my favorite:

I didn’t know then that sadness is never entirely gone; it lives on forever just below the skin.  Without it I wouldn’t be who I am, or be able to recognize myself in the mirror.

11 thoughts on “The Sum of Our Days”

  1. I was going to pick out one phrase that particularly struck me, but I realized that ALL the quotes caught my eye. I think I might need to pick up that book.

    P.S. I read Olive Kitteridge. Still deciding what I think about it.

  2. I love the fact that you embrace discomfort alongside joy. As humans, we have this intense desire to shed anything uncomfortable. We strive for a life full only of happy and peaceful days. We know this is impossible. Still we make noble efforts.

    I like to come here and read when I feel like there is probably a prescription out there that could make life a little easier. I need to remember that sadness is, in a strange sort of way, part of what makes life great.

  3. I love the last one… it’s how I’ve been trying to describe recovering from alcoholism. It’s always there, but as time goes on it’s not always in the front ground. But it’s there. Like loss, like pain, like everything we go through in life.

  4. I love the way you’ve chosen and laid these words out, like a perfect boutique that has just what you didn’t even know you were looking for. Wrap them up, I’ll take them all (or perhaps they’re already just beneath my skin, presents alongside the presences that drift in and out across the transoms of our souls).


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