Some of the best ideas are the ones that make us rethink our own. While I was in Istanbul at the end of January, I indulged in one of life’s greater pleasures and visited a bookstore. They had a whole table of the Penguin Great Ideas series, and I hovered over it for a good long while. I eventually walked away with St. Augustine’s Confessions of a Sinner and Henry David Thoreau’s Where I Lived and What I Lived For.
Now, either of these books has plenty of grist for the old mental mill, but just to be superficial about it, let me confess that I didn’t so much as open the Thoreau before falling deep into thought over the quotation on the cover:
“Rather than love, than fame, than money, give me truth.”
It sounds so upright and good, and I can think of people in my life who would wholeheartedly espouse this (I’m married to one of them). Myself, I could easily turn down fame, and we all know what money can’t buy, but therein lies the rub. You see, I’m pretty sure I’d settle for love. And reading that quote, with the stark trees etched beneath it, I felt somehow smaller for that.
Then again, isn’t the truth supposed to hurt? What’s so great about that?