The Undefended Heart

I can still remember pulling the book off the shelf in the library.  That’s how I know I was in elementary school.  I don’t remember how old I was, but I know I was in the school library.  I have a vague memory of the cover too.

It was called “Z” is for Zachariah.  The first post-apocalyptic book I ever read, although I’d seen  enough movies about the world after nuclear war by that time to have a feeling for the subject.

I don’t remember much about the book, it’s more a feeling of emptiness and some hope.

I read many other novels and watched more movies and TV shows on the subject after that.  Like these days, it was a popular subject in the 1970s and early 80s.

Now I understand why I was drawn to them.

I was gathering information, trying to figure out what it might be like to survive a nuclear war.  And if I did, how I would go on living.   In my mind I was always alone, everyone I knew would have died.

After a while, I stopped reading apocalyptic books. I guess I had my fill, felt as if I had learned all I could from them.

Of course, now the apocalyptic threat is no so much from Nuclear war but from Climate Change.

And there are once again plenty of books, movies and TV shows on the subject.  I have resisted most of them, but when Jon told me about the book The Light Pirate by Lily Brooks-Dalton it caught my attention.

I’m glad I read it because ultimately, it was a hopeful book, full of the humanity that only such a story can bring to light.   It seems when we are faced with the destruction of not only the human race, but the earth as we know it, it can help us understand what is really important.

That is how this genre has always taught me about myself in everyday life when there are no immediate threats of war and natural devastation.  Because how we survive is not only about our physical bodies, but our emotional ones as well.

“This is survival.” Brooks-Dalton writes.  “This is how the vessel protects the mind, how the mind protects the heart, how the heart goes on forgetting that its calling is to be undefended, that being broken is part of being whole.”

I have a friend who says she was born with the “happy gene”.  Even in the worst times, she looks for the moment when she can smile, can laugh.  I feel like was born with the “hope gene”.  I can’t imagine living my life without hope. I think, in a way, hope is my faith.

I have no doubt that we are in the process of The Sixth Extinction and this time it’s our fault.  But I still have hope, if not for humanity, for the earth and the life forms to come.

2 thoughts on “The Undefended Heart

  1. Maria, this made me think of the poem: There Will Come Soft Rains (War Time). Look it up if it’s not one that you know. I’ve never been too interested in poetry, but some of it does stick with me, and this is one of those poems. Mom used to have my sister and I memorize some poetry when we were in upper elementary school. I can remember parts of The Highwayman from that time (hardly a poem you’d think my mother would have thought appropriate at that age!).

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