"I think... that when I die, I can breathe back the breath that made me live. I can give back to the world all that I didn't do. All that I might have been and couldn't be. All the choices I didn't make. All the things I lost and spent and wasted. I can give them back to the world. To the lives that haven't been lived yet. That will be my gift back to the world that gave me the life I did live, the love I loved, the breath I breathed."
- Ursula le Guin, The Other Wind
Yesterday, The Other Wind arrived on my doorstep. I read it right through. Today it lingers in my heart like a dragon's claw or the memory of sun flashing against a high window. This is the third time I've read it, and I've gone deeper into it than before; next time, who knows how much deeper I will go.
I came late to the Earthsea books, but I'm glad. I came to them after I'd lived on an island of heat and stone and dust, after I'd sailed, slept under the stars. The books did not so much lead me into enchantment but accompanied me through my knowledge of what enchantment feels like. I have been in Tenar's dark and in her farmhouse kitchen; I have lived in the wind, looking for dragons.
This morning, I was thinking of how profoundly, and with only sparse simple words, Ursula creates images in my mind, and I was wondering what other books that reminds me of. Then I realised - none. Earthsea reminds me of itself. And of places in my own world. That's how real it feels.
illustration by jeanie tomanek
ps: A fairly new reader of my weblog tells me she assumed I was a teenager. I'm curious now. For those of you who have read my online writings for a while, and who have read my books, how old would you guess I am?