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finding ROOM. finding time.

December 30, 2010

Butter and toast“In the world I notice persons are nearly always stressed and have no time. Even Grandma often says that, but she and Steppa don’t have jobs, so I don’t know how persons with jobs do the jobs and all the living as well.

In Room me and Ma had time for everything. I guess the time gets spread very thin like butter over all the world, the roads and houses and playgrounds and stores, so there’s only a little smear of time on each place, the everyone has to hurry on to the next bit.”

ROOM, p 286-287, Emma Donoghue

I spent the day after Christmas reading all 321 pages of a most remarkable novel. ROOM is a story told by Jack –a five year old who lives with his Ma in Room, which has a locked Door and Skylight and measures eleven feet by eleven feet.  There is Bed and Dresser, Lamp and Bath, Sink and TV, Cupboard. That is the extent of Jack’s world. It is all that he knows. All that he has known. It is all he needs.  He knows what is real and he knows that what he sees on TV is not real. Until the day Ma told him it is. Well bits of it…

Imagine that everything you thought was make-believe was actually real –the people, the places, the animals, the machines, all of it … and you now had to live your life in that world! What would that be like? How would it change how you lived now?

For someone like me who is obsessed with the idea of reframing, of looking at things from other perspectives, ROOM takes the concept and stretches it so far it almost will not fit inside your mind. ROOM is a novel so I know it is not real. Except you and I both know that there are people for whom it is. That is what makes it such a disturbing read.

Jack’s reflection on how we appear to consume time hung in the air long after I had finished reading. With 2010 all but complete and 2011 stretching out before us, it is during this week that many people start to think about what we spent the past year doing and how we would like to spend the coming year.

Spending time with Jack (or anybody else who perceives the world differently to us) helps to see the things that are right in front of our noses. Family. The wonder of a sunset. People who love us even if we haven’t seen them for many, many years. The majesty of a thunderstorm. The joy that comes from seeing blue sky after weeks of rain.

How thinly do you spread your time?

How do you do the jobs, but more importantly all the living as well?

What are you doing to help others to live well?


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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Susie Surtees: EXPLORE Creative Life Design permalink
    January 3, 2011 7:44 am

    Sensitively explored reminder of the sometimes vastly different realities we each inhabit, Paul. I like your reflections on how we spend our precious time. And I think your three questions are perfect contemplations for 2011 as it stretches away before us. Putting ‘Room’ on my reading list!

    • January 3, 2011 2:59 pm

      Make sure you have a good chunk of time to read it – it sucked me in and it wasn’t until halfway through that I could put it down and come up for air! It also raises the question of how much we really need to live and I think the answer is a lot less than we think. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did and I am looking forward to hearing your thoughts on it.

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