I have just finished reading Isabel Allende’s “Infinite Plan” . I am surprised I had not read it before, having enjoyed “House of Spirit”s in Spanish when I first started learning Spanish in 1983.
It is a wonderful story of how a man journeys from a childhood and youth of travelling and deprivation to understand himself in his later years. Isabel weaves many characters and threads into the story but they are so well described and memorable, that I was able to retain their names and see the vivid images.
An aspect I appreciated at the end, after following the many tales, was that it was ultimately all about the spiritual journey of the main protagonist, Gregory Reeves.
Isabel has a quote from the Chilean singer, Violeta Parra, a fellow compatriot, at the beginning of the book.
“Gracias a la vida que me ha dado tanto
My thanks to life for all it has given.”
For me, Violeta’s beautiful words are always tinged by the knowledge that she committed suicide with a gunshot to the head in 1967. The film made about her” Violeta went to heaven” is a very powerful film and worth seeing.
Unlike Gregory, Violeta was unable to have control over her destiny. It is interesting that at one point, one of the characters in the book, Carmen, berates her teenage son for threatening to kill himself because he can’t live without a girl he likes.
“ Don’t ever say that again.. even joking. You’re going to live out your life, no matter how much it hurts. “
Gregory does live out his life, going through various crises in his adult life. As he reaches another crisis, he starts to work with a therapist, Ming O’Brian:
“She went back with me every step of the journey toward the past, so far back that I experienced the terror of birth and accepted the loneliness to which I had been destined from the instant that Olga’s shears separated me from my mother.. She helped me bear the burden of the many forms of abandonment I had suffered….
At the moment my world caved in on me, when I had nothing left, I discovered that I didn’t feel depressed, I felt free…
I realized that the most important thing was not, as I had imagined, to survive or be successful; the most important thing was the search for my soul, which I had left behind in the quick -sand of my childhood. When I found it, I learned that the power I had wasted such desperate energy to gain has always been inside me. I was reconciled with myself, I accepted myself with a touch of kindness, and then, and only then, was rewarded with my first glimpse of peace . I think that was the precise instant I became aware of who I truly am, and at last felt in control of my destiny…”
This is what I try to do for myself and in my work with clients and students: discover and express the many different aspects of who we are. Pregnancy and birth are fundamental journeys for women as they open us up to so many profound insights. Yet, regardless of whether we have children or not, through understanding our own time in the womb, our birth, and our early child hood experiences we understand more deeply what makes us who we are. We can then be aware of how we are during our pregnancies and with our own children. And we can understand that we always have a possibility, to connect with our soul: to make peace with ourselves and be in control of our destiny.
As I looked at Isabel’s website, I noticed that she has set up a foundation to support the empowerment of women and girls: She shares some of the proceeds from her books to support this foundation. I love the quote she includes for this ” We only have what we give”.
She is a remarkable inspiration for us all. I will have to work my way through her other books now!