Sunday, March 11, 2007

Not Quite a Meme

Sometimes we who live here in Tecwil indulge in a kind of gallows humor. When things are unacceptably difficult, one way to deal with them is to laugh. In fact, it's one of the only ways I've found that works. A year or so ago, at a time when the kidnappings in the country were becoming more and more common, I was visiting the subscription library to which I belong. It's open one evening a week for everyone to come change their books and enjoy some social time too. For a few weeks, all the conversation had been about kidnappings we knew about and people we knew who had had this happen to them. Some of the stories were tragic. All were upsetting. That day, one of the members, an expat who's been here for many years, commented that he thought it would be a good idea if all of us checked out a few extra books, just in case we were kidnapped. He said he'd taken to carrying reading material in his car.

He was kidding (though perhaps not completely), and we all laughed. But I've thought of his remark several times since then. And I've wondered what would be good books to have with you if you were kidnapped.

Understand, I'm not expecting to be kidnapped. But it has happened to people I know.

I realize this doesn't have the right kind of universal application to make a good meme, but if you, too, are prone to reflect on this kind of thing, please post what you would like to have for reading material if you were kidnapped. Think of it as Desert Island Discs, with a twist. In that BBC radio show, the premise is that you're a castaway on a desert island and you have to say what eight pieces of music and one book - excluding the Bible and the complete works of Shakespeare, which of course any self-respecting desert island has already - you would like to have with you. You are also allowed one luxury item with no survival value. In the kidnapping scenario, there's an added feature - you're scared, and the outcome of this is out of your hands completely. On the desert island, I assume you'd be scared too, but you could keep busy doing things like finding water, building shelter, talking to a volleyball - you know, stuff like that. But as a kidnap victim, you'd need to keep yourself as calm as possible and there would be very little for you to do, beyond praying that the people negotiating your release would have success. So you'd want things to read that would keep you calm, absorb your attention, and occupy your time. You can pick as many books as you want, but remember that the combined weight of the books should make it realistic that you'd have them in your schoolbag or briefcase or whatever you normally carry around.

So what books would I like to have in case of kidnapping? Well, I'd really like to have my Bible with me and my beloved Book of Common Prayer. Both of those are actually possible because I own pocket versions and often one or the other is in my bag anyway. I think I'd be likely to want something to read that was familiar. In times of crisis I always find myself rereading books by C.S. Lewis, so perhaps a couple of the Chronicles of Narnia or The Screwtape Letters. I think it would be good, too, to have something that I hadn't read before, or had just started, and that had lots of characters and took place in a totally different time and place. Something that would be long enough to keep me absorbed for many hours. What else? War and Peace would be the perfect choice.

And you? Or am I the only person insane enough to think this way? (Please understand, I do understand the seriousness of this crime, and I hope my flippancy doesn't offend anybody.)

I wrote about kidnapping before here.


Matsu said...

I can't say that I've ever thought about being kidnapped or what I might read if I was ever kidnapped. But, some days I do think about how nice it might be if I were in jail (no phones, no computers, no meetings, no people) so I might have all the time in the world to read without interruptions. Granted, some of the "You might be stressed if you..." lists actually say a common sign of being over-stressed is dreaming of being put in jail (doing the time without doing a crime). Yes, that's weird. But, not any more weird than thinking up a list of books to have with you in case you are kidnapped.

Ruth said...

Hey, Matsu? Are you saying I'm weird?