Field of rye

Just finished rereading Catcher in the Rye. I loved that book as I first read it a hundred years ago, when it gave me a lump in the throat I carried around for a long time. I wondered how I’d react to it now that I’m an old crock.  The lump is back and who knows how long it’ll last.

I never forgot the hyper-awareness of Holden Caulfield. I couldn’t imagine his ever being happy. I still can’t fathom his finding a way to break through his own loneliness to bond with someone on an equal footing, even though I still hope he will. As I read this time, I kept thinking about how much grief he’d gone through and how nowadays he’d be on meds for PTSD. And I still love the lines:

“Certain things, they should stay the way they are. You ought to be able to stick them in one of those big glass cases and just leave them alone.”  Boy, does that resonate for me at this stage in life.
“When you’re not looking, somebody’ll sneak up and write “Fuck you” right under your nose.”  Should be the Boomer motto.
“Anyway, I keep picturing all these little kids playing some game in this big field of rye and all. Thousands of little kids, and nobody’s around – nobody big, I mean – except me. And I’m standing on the edge of some crazy cliff. What I have to do, I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff – I mean if they’re running and they don’t look where they’re going I have to come out from somewhere and catch them. That’s all I do all day. I’d just be the catcher in the rye and all. I know it’s crazy, but that’s the only thing I’d really like to be.”   I’ll always see Holden catching those kids, and the thought gives me comfort.

Shoebill in the Wild - Uganda, Africa

And why, do you ask, would I put a photo of a Shoebill Stork cheek by jowl with Holden Caulfield? Because some things in this strange and ever-twisting life share a level of perfection. No, not perfection, which is a human concept capable of destroying lives. There’s a shared rightness to both Holden and a Shoebill, and that makes me happy.

Here’s to Spring.