Cautionary Tales

I’ve been busy transitioning from Maine to Florida for the winter. It’s not so much a culture shock as an environment shock. The day before we left our place in Maine, I took this (above) picture of the view outside our living room. Yesterday morning I took this (below) picture of the view outside our living room in Florida.

Gary and I visited a friend in Bowie, MD, on the trip down. She’s widowed, 80-something, and living in a life community setting that she says was fine while her husband was alive but not her preference now that he’s gone. She’d rather be back in the town in NY that they lived in for so many years, but she can’t afford to make the move now. The main reason for her dissatisfaction is the comparative lack of acquaintances and common histories. It’s a cautionary tale. (I’m trying to make lots of friends in the cityside setting. Our island setting is spectacularly beautiful, but I wouldn’t want to be living alone there.)

The book on this friend’s reading table – she prefers newspapers and only reads one book at a time, often not bothering to finish even that – was Here on Earth by Alice Hoffman. At least, I think that was it, and yet when I check into what the book is about, I can’t believe she’s reading it. It’s a romance novel dealing with the dark side of love and having a character reminiscent of Heathcliff. This is not the sort of book I’d predict this friend (“crusty” might best describe her) would enjoy, and so I look forward to learning her opinion when she has finished.

Many books tell cautionary tales. Maybe all books do, when you think about it. Fiction or nonfiction, there’s a reason the author is writing. There’s a story to tell that could turn out well or poorly for the protagonist, or there’s information to impart that, if not heeded, could turn out poorly for the reader. Think of the last book you read. Was there a cautionary tale element to it?

This entry was posted in Ruminations and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Cautionary Tales

  1. What beautiful pictures — and interesting blog. I was told recently that maybe Washington was the place for me to live, but I had heard that it is not the most friendly environment. Not surprising. Love the topic of the cautionary tale, but the last book I read was a handbook of owning a labrador retriever and most of what I read only reinforced my decision to own this beautiful animal. Great topic, though, that maybe should make a return down the road.

  2. Maybe it was a cautionary “tail,” that book on labs… Thanks for the Comment, Nancy!

  3. Pam Seastrand says:

    I am reading Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. I just got to the cautionary tale, I do believe. That you can be punished for your own high morals. That trying to stay true to my own moral code (aka, keeping my high standards afloat) can be your greatest downfall when people put sanctions on it.

    And what would Atlas do when the world is getting heavier and heavier upon his shoulders? He would shrug, that’s what. (I’m not sure yet if that’s a good thing, a bad thing, or an I-don’t-care thing. I’ve just gotten to that part in the book, so I’m still reading.)

    Sigh… I’m working a lot still. I’m assured it won’t last forever (it’s been 2 years now) and that I just need to figure out the best times and places to yield my “super powers.” Otherwise, I will continue to be unhappy with my struggle between the time we have and what needs to be done (a classic tale, I know, but it’s been super-amped here at CA for a while now. The pace has been constant and intense.)

    P.S. Loved my birthday card! And the Antiques Roadshow article about the twins’ swooped hair and noses. Very funny, Meredith. Very funny : ) Hugs, Pam

  4. Ah, yes, Atlas Shrugged! I need to put it on my list to read again sometime; it’s been about forty-five years… oh my. But as I recall, an incredibly good example of a book with a cautionary tale. On the work front, I think my dad’s admonition comes into play: Everything in moderation. Two years without respite? Not a good thing! And you know I get it, but that doesn’t mean I can’t try to lure you into a better reality. I wonder, has anyone ever written a (good) book about overworking?

Comments are closed.