No, this post doesn’t have anything to do with actually learning Italian, so if that’s what you’re here for, I apologize. It actually has nothing to do with learning a new language. It has to do with an essay written by Jhumpa Lahiri, titled, you guessed it, Teach Yourself Italian. A little bit of marginally-important back story: I’ve been reading the collection of short stories, “Interpreter of Maladies” by Lahiri for my literary investigations class this semester. One particular story, “A Temporary Matter”, caught my attention and led me to do a bit of research on this author. She’s a brilliant writer, and if you haven’t read anything of hers, I highly recommend it.
My little bit of research led me to this essay. And now that I’ve read it, I can’t get it out of my head. For one, I feel a strange, inexplicable connection to the way that Lahiri writes. In reality, there’s little we have in common. But this essay was finally able to articulate something I’ve been struggling to put into words for as long as I can remember. One particular quote sums it up pretty well:
“The moments of transition, in which something changes, constitute the backbone of all of us. Whether they are a salvation or a loss, they are moments that we tend to remember. They give a structure to our existence. Almost all the rest is oblivion.” – Jhumpa Lahiri
If you’ve known me long enough, you’ve probably been around for one of my “restless” flare-ups. This is when I dye my hair a crazy color, or go on a sudden binge of horror movies, or give myself a tattoo in my dorm room (ahem, Stick and Poke). It’s usually a period of time where I’m more or less content with my life, something just doesn’t quite feel right and the only way I can describe it is feeling restless. If you’ve never felt this, you’re lucky. Apparently, Jhumpa Lahiri has felt this, though. And wow, did she hit the nail on the head with this written interpretation of it.
“I think that the power of art is the power to wake us up, strike us to our depths, change us. What are we searching for when we read a novel, see a film, listen to a piece of music? We are searching, through a work of art, for something that alters us, that we weren’t aware of before.”
Somehow, this piece of writing did exactly the awakening that it discusses. (Meta, right?) I’m so glad to have read this, to have seen another’s perspective on this restlessness that I experience oh so frequently. So, I figured I had to share this with you as well. Who knows, maybe you’ll find it to be just as affecting as I did.
Stay tuned for more updates,
xoxo, second sister suzie