I don’t think anyone’s immune from the doldrums. The same goes for loneliness. Just recently, I felt a wave of something tinged with sadness and just wanted to be comfortable and tucked up some place familiar. I didn’t know what to make of it. Maybe this is what loneliness feels like, I thought. Huh.
I’m a fine candidate for loneliness by any account. I intentionally distance myself from most people and live a life that’s really not that far from a hermit’s. But I’ve never thought much about feeling lonely. Alone, yes. But not lonely.
So, that’s how I came to need a book that would cheer me up, transport me somewhere else, and warm up my state of mind a little. Warm up might sound a little odd, but that’s what I wanted. I often gravitate towards books about the Arctic (and I love to travel there too), but that wasn’t what I needed. I was feeling out of character, and I wanted to read about an out of character place. I chose Burma during World War II.
After a few pages, I knew I’d chosen the right fiction prescription. Elephant Moon by John Sweeney is a book to uplift your soul and fill you with hope and the knowledge that life – while no doubt containing so much suffering – is a real wonder.
Life – her life – depended on self-discipline, on keeping her mind level and focused.
It’s a book that will show you love, great perseverance, and a destination in reach when it seems impossible – and elephants. Elephants (along with a joint favourite, the glorious emperor penguin) fascinate me with their intelligence, their bulk, their wise long-lashed eyes, and their compassion.
‘As it happens, I’m trying to learn Japanese at the moment.’ ‘Why?’ ‘To pass the time.’ A reply so transparently nonsensical that she could not help being a little intrigued. ‘No one learns Japanese to pass the time, Mr Peach.’ He said something in a soft lilt, strange tones rising and falling, and then translated: ‘One fallen flower returning to the branch? ‘Oh no! ‘A pale butterfly.’
Read Elephant Moon if you’d like an escape from life for a couple of days; if things feel a bit too much, or if you’d like to just marvel at the courage and determination of someone else while you’re having much-needed time to rest and recuperate.
When you’re ready to resume being a warrior in your own life, this book will help put you where you need to be.