Happy Agatha Day! It feels a little like we’re in a strange, alternate world right now, doesn’t it? I hope you’re all hanging in there and treating yourselves well. This month’s Agatha quote feels especially appropriate for this time.
“Life is really like a ship — the interior of a ship, that is. It has watertight compartments. You emerge from one, seal and bolt the doors, and find yourself in another. My life from the day we left Southampton to the day we returned to England was one such compartment. Ever since that I have felt the same about travel. You step from one life into another. You are yourself, but a different self.”
Context: This paragraph opens a new section where Agatha is talking about how it felt to return from an exciting but grueling international tour for her first husband’s job. She muses about how strange it can feel to return from such a trip, how foreign your old life can seem after such a long period of being abroad.
Why I Chose It: For me, it really does capture what it’s like to go through something and then “return” to your previous life. You’re not the same person. It has echoes of the title of the Thomas Wolfe book, You Can’t Go Home Again. And while Agatha was referring to traveling, it’s so applicable to any life journey. When you go through something, it changes you, shaping you into a modified version of the person you were. As she says, “You are yourself, but a different self.”
We’re all going through something major right now, and we’ll come out of it changed. For some people, it will be in minor ways, and for others, they will feel like they have become entirely different people. But what I find especially hopefully is that through implies movement, forward progress. Eventually we will arrive somewhere else. One day, we’ll emerge from this compartment, and we’ll seal the door behind us, moving forward as different selves. Until then, hold onto the hope of that day with as much strength as you can summon and be kind to yourself and to each other.
Happy Agatha Day! We have made it through March, although it sure seemed to last forever. I thought about skipping a quote this month, but then I remembered that Agatha had some things to say about the state of the world that are perfect for what we’re all going through right now. It’s a longer quote, but it’s absolutely worth a read.
“There is at least the dawn, I believe, of a kind of good will. We mind when we hear of earthquakes, of spectacular disasters to the human race. We want to help. That is a real achievement; which I think must lead somewhere. Not quickly — nothing happens quickly — but at any rate we can hope. I think sometimes we do not appreciate that second virtue which we mention so seldom in the trilogy — faith, hope and charity. Faith we have had, shall we say, almost too much of — faith can make you bitter, hard, unforgiving; you can abuse faith. Love we cannot but help knowing in our own hearts is the essential. But how often do we forget that there is hope as well, and that we seldom think about hope? We are ready to despair too soon, we are ready to say, ‘What’s the good of doing anything?’ Hope is the virtue we should cultivate most in this present day and age.”
Context: This paragraph follows Agatha’s musings about life after WWII. Having lived through both world wars, serving as a nursing assistant and then a pharmacy assistant in the first, and returning to work again in a pharmacy during the second, she saw a lot of tragedy and pain. To her, it seems war is pointless. What’s the purpose of winning one war if another is bound to follow? And yet, in spite of the things she has seen, she’s hopeful—hopeful that society is improving, that the future will be brighter than the past.
Why I Chose It: I think it’s a particularly insightful observation. And I agree with what Agatha says—so much attention is given to faith and love. People cling to faith and adore love, but much less consideration is given to hope. Often we look at hopeful people as being unrealistic or out of touch. But it takes great strength to be hopeful, especially in the face of tragedy. And the pain we feel for the suffering of others means we are connected, we care even though we may not know them. To feel that pain or fear and still hope—that is pure and beautiful strength. Cultivate hope, my friends. It’s more powerful than you think.