I am reading Black Boy by Richard wright. Coming off black history month and living just about an hour from where Wright was born in Mississippi, I was moved to read this biography. And it is captivating, as any good bio is- shocking, deviating from what is considered a "normal" upbringing, filled with injustice, poverty, illness, prejudice- this is well written, introspective but simple.
After I read this passage below, I had to read it over several times, it's dense with both reflection and foreshadowing and tells of the conflicting sentiments of one who empathizes with another's pain but burns with his own. I found no good way to chop it down to post it on social media so I put it here. It took my awe and I felt I needed to share.
"At the age of twelve I had an attitude toward life that was to endure, that was to make me seek those areas of living that would keep it alive, that was to make me skeptical of everything while seeking everything, tolerant of all and yet critical. The spirit I had caught gave me insight into the suffering of others, made me gravitate toward those whose feelings were like my own, made me sit for hours while others told me of their lives, made me strangely tender and cruel, violent and peaceful.
It made me want to drive coldly to the heart of every question and lay it open to the core of suffering I knew I would find there. It made me love burrowing into psychology, into realistic and naturalistic fiction and art, into those whirlpools of politics that had the power to claim the whole of men's souls. It directed my loyalties to the side of men in rebellion; it made me love talk that sought answers to questions that could help nobody, that could only keep alive in me that enthralling sense of wonder and awe in the face of the drama of human feeling which is hidden by the external drama of life."
Black Boy, by Richard Wright