Reading Life Lessons


Jackie Steele, Staff Writer

The time has come for the seniors of Miramonte to begin to say their bittersweet goodbyes to life at Miramonte. It’s hard to feel completely sad or happy about leaving the place that has taught us valuable lessons as well as frustrated us to exhaustion.

For me, much of my time here has been a blur, with of course several moments standing out: making new friends, laughing, learning about myself and having a sort of continuous epiphany or period of enlightenment about the way I was living and acting.

Books; that’s where it begins for me. They can come from anywhere, and don’t have to be the most intellectual or gruelingly dense book you can think of.

Between Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s Le Petit Prince, an illustrated French children’s book we read in French 3, and East of Eden, the thick and wonderfully life-changing work by the master of novels John Steinbeck, I am always able to find a source of hope and counsel in reading these beautiful works of art.

I like to know who’s teaching me these lessons; I want to know the author. Not just name and age, but background, struggles, life altering situations: what made them say what I find to be so incredible, so magical?

And so I begin to create a bond with these authors, and I feel strongly that the fact that they’re both dead is irrelevant.

Driving through Salinas, California, the setting of East of Eden and birthplace of Steinbeck, makes me feel like I’m meeting him, getting to experience his story for myself. I can feel the story within me. I’m here Steinbeck, do you see me?

And then there’s Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. Despite the fact that Le Petit Prince has been translated into over 250 languages, I want to read the French, not English, version. This way, I will feel a more authentic connection to Saint-Exupéry, I get to see the actual words he wrote, not the words translated by someone else.

As for the books themselves, I know that I will never outgrow them or have no use for them, because their lessons will never cease to be relevant.

Timshel, the Hebrew word meaning ‘thou mayest,’ will always be there to mean that I can choose who I become and how I act, it is not predetermined by those before me. This one word forever changes the fight between good and evil in East of Eden, and also changes the lives of those absorb the same knowledge too.

Le Petit Prince is able to display the imperfections of leaving behind childhood and joining what is popularly known as the “real world.” What do we miss? What do we neglect? What do we lose within ourselves?

In short, these two very different books aren’t simply Pretty Little Liar novels that trend among tweens, they’re forever. They will never cease to be a guide to life, to be applicable to all situations. Although high school is coming to a close, these novels will always be a part of me and shape who I am.

So I know that my relationship with books will not end here, and I continue to search for the discovery of text that can give me new perspective and change something within my core, for that’s where I find my growth, no matter what age I am or my place in life.