Some hard things, two or three, had already happened to me, but not to him, so it was a shock when he found out maybe life isn’t one long basketball game. (Page 90)
I’m well over halfway through In Cold Blood now and have a fair few folded pages. I haven’t done any extra blogging this week apart from my usual Monday post so I’m going back to page 90 and the quote above as its something that stuck with and intrigued me.
Principally it was this idea that, experiencing bad things can actually help you and strengthen you for the future. Initially this seems to make sense, if you have experienced disappointment before – especially at a young age – it can fortify you for any further disappointments that may come in future.
As I was mulling this over as I continued to read the book, I looked back at my life and wondered when I myself had realised that “life isn’t one long basketball game.”
As is the case with most people there were a number of moments. Mine happened to occur when I was very young and I’m sure that yeah, its probably why I can deal with and adapt (or believe I can) with a lot of things.
But it was still nagging at me and I could tell that my mind was looking at it from a bigger viewpoint, almost as a whole concept.
I truthfully feel none of us have anyone to blame for whatever we have done with our own personal lives. It has been proven that at the age 7 most of us have reached the age of reason – which means we do, at this age, understand & know the difference between right & wrong. Of course – environment plays an awfully important part in our lives such as the Convent in mine & in my case I am grateful for that influence. (Page 135)
Needless to say after getting to the above part in the book some clarity was added to my thinking. Of course environment plays a big part but what happens if your environment is so unrelenting, so unforgiving, that you simply, give up? You give up on trying to live to any kind of normal or moral standard and you do what you want? Or, faced with an environment that is treacherous, you do what ever you can to survive.
You can look at it, analyse it and start to see and decipher and follow the many different roots that filter down into criminality.
But more than that, I started to think about the importance of environment in relation to time. I can see how a young person can ‘find’ a path of crime because of a tough childhood, or conversely a young person who manages to go against that and be strong of character because of the same things.
But what if something so bad happens when you’re an adult that you abandon everything that was ‘right’ before, and go down another path. What does it take for someone to ‘break bad’?
And then I realised why my mind was going over all these things so much – it’s because they’re such inherently dramatic things. This maelstrom of environment and choice is what informs and forges the characters writers create.
In the case of In Cold Blood, Truman Capote does a very compelling job of drawing very vivid portraits of everyone concerned, including the killers and showing how they came to be the people they are, so it is obvious why these sorts of thoughts have been on my mind as I read the book.
Another element that sparked into life as I struck upon how dramatic all of these things are was the word safety. Just how safe is anyone from there being such a sudden shift in the paradigm of their lives – whether by tragedy or, anything – that you simply say ‘fuck this, I give up on being whatever I was before’?
Of course, it can work both ways and both ways, good and bad, are dramatic, whether you are talking about real life or a dramatisation.
And equally, both ways of it happening, either a number of things wearing someone down, or one big moment that changes everything, is also dramatic.