Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Making it count

I’m not sure when exactly the adventure began, but it came to an end last night. I didn’t enjoy it as much as I should have, perhaps because, in my mind, it simply became an undertaking I was not going to give up on. I had started it two previous times, and this time, I was determined to finish.  After 1,243 pages and 117 chapters, I can check the unabridged classic The Count of Monte Cristo off my bucket list.

Quite possibly I began reading it sometime in June because a journal entry on August 14, 2015 at 11:25pm reads “Still reading The Count of Monte Cristo. I’m on page 586 – only 657 pages to go. Maybe I’ll have it finished by the end of the year.”  And that became my goal. Check.

As I was reading, I kept thinking about all of the other books I could be holding in my hands while I was drudging through this one, and sadly, now that I am done, I wish I would have enjoyed it more. Isn’t that how life is sometimes? We have moments and opportunities to savor, and so often, we are caught looking ahead, making a list of what we don’t have, and not appreciating what we do.

Along with the reminder to enjoy the present, here is a list of some insights from reading this book:

Sometimes watching the movie only confuses one when reading the book of the same title.
The premise is mostly the same, but the subtle differences had me rereading some parts of the book because I thought I had missed something. As in the movie, Fernand does betray Edmond in order to marry Mercedes, and Albert is born to this union, but in the book, Fernand is not Edmond’s best friend, Mercedes waits many years before marrying Fernand, and Albert is not Edmond’s son. The happy ending of the movie is sweet. But just don’t expect the book to end the same.

I know L stands for 50 and C equals 100.
When confronted with Roman Numerals – with an apology to my 3rd grade teacher Mrs. Dugmore – I must admit I often forget what comes after X. But after reading CXVII chapters labelled with a V, C, or L, or a combination of those letters, this numeric system has sunk into my brain.

Reading 1,243 pages is worth it when you find a quote you love.
“Maternal love is such a great virtue and powerful impulse that it can excuse many things.”

I understand the pleasure one might find in retribution, but I believe true happiness is found when one seeks to forgive.
Edmond Dantes uses his fortune and freedom to punish those responsible for his incarceration, and his vengeance consumes him. I thought it sad, just sad. And maybe that is what one should learn. When we seek revenge, we give more of our life to one who does not deserve any of our thoughts, our energy, or our time. For me, Alexandre Dumas epic tale of suffering is not about the pleasure of retribution, but about the need to forgive. 

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