The Book Club Reflection: ' The TIme Traveler's Wife' by Audrey Niffenegger

A TREATISE ON LONGING

When did you last sit in peaceful  and bountless reflection?
When did you last sit in peaceful and bountless reflection?
The kind of thinking that occurs in the state between wakefulness and dream
The kind of thinking that occurs in the state between wakefulness and dream
can be profound and beautiful
can be profound and beautiful
and the source of great intuitions.
and the source of great intuitions.
When did you last even see the tiny flower under your fast moving feet?
When did you last even see the tiny flower under your fast moving feet?
We live in the truimphant days of a bright, fast, energetic, active,
We live in the truimphant days of a bright, fast, energetic, active,
ever onwards and upwards society.
ever onwards and upwards society.
We measure happiness by the volume of our consumption yet we are unhappy...
We measure happiness by the volume of our consumption yet we are unhappy...
What if you have to 'time travel' without anything to take?
What if you have to 'time travel' without anything to take?
What if you have to leave the comfort of modern life behind?
What if you have to leave the comfort of modern life behind?
Would you miss the frog call on a crisp, still night?
Would you miss the frog call on a crisp, still night?
Would you miss the majestic pelican who seem equally undisturbed by your comings and goings..
Would you miss the majestic pelican who seem equally undisturbed by your comings and goings..
As we turn towards winter, slow down
As we turn towards winter, slow down
and start savouring all those little things
and start savouring all those little things
that makes us whole
that makes us whole
and make life beautiful.
and make life beautiful.
But such beauty brings with it an awesome responsibility.
But such beauty brings with it an awesome responsibility.
Those of us living city lives with all the hustle and bustle
Those of us living city lives with all the hustle and bustle
that's the flip side of the city buzz
that's the flip side of the city buzz
can find natural beauty everywhere.
can find natural beauty everywhere.
Good things are good but their neglected opposites are valuable as well.
Good things are good but their neglected opposites are valuable as well.
The excitment of action needs the stillness of reflection.
The excitment of action needs the stillness of reflection.
Failing again and again are the stepping stones
Failing again and again are the stepping stones
to any great achievement.
to any great achievement.
Chronic illness can be the inner road
Chronic illness can be the inner road
to self understanding.
to self understanding.
Sadness goes hand in hand
Sadness goes hand in hand
with the tenderness of love
with the tenderness of love
Disappointments tell us
Disappointments tell us
when we have done something useless.
when we have done something useless.
without limitation
without limitation
inactivity
inactivity
and pain
and pain
we would be less
we would be less
than human.
than human.
We need to be comfortable
We need to be comfortable
with ourselves
with ourselves
in only ONE TIME we have....
in only ONE TIME we have....

THE LONGING OF THE ONE
ALWAYS LEFT BEHIND
TIME IN
TIME OUT

Writing is a private thing,
it’s boring to watch
and my loved ones
are left behind
,’
said Audrey Niffenegger:
It’s pleasures
tend to be most intense
for me…’


And for us…
Following her story
filled with strangeness
and slight changes
in the rules of the universe
yet recognizable
for her characters
are real people
who struggle
to lead normal lives.

Page One:
Clare talks to Henry:
It’s hard to be the one,
who stays,
it’s hard to be left
alone..’

Henry responds:
‘Imagine,
how does it feel
to leave
everything you know
behind?’


THE LONGING OF THE ONE
ALWAYS DISPLACED BY A WHIM OF TIME
TIME IN
TIME OUT


It only takes
an instant
just enough time
to try to hold on
to flail around
and then
YOU ARE OUT THERE
IN TIME
No clothes, no money, no ID.
You appear from nowhere,
naked.
How can you explain?

THE LONGING OF THE MAN
OUT OF TIME
ALL HE ASKS FOR
ARE HUMBLE DELIGHTS
OF DOMESTICITY
BECAUSE TRULY
BEING HERE
IS SO MUCH…

The story starts in 1968
A first time for everything’
Henry travels back in time,
He is five.

It is a day like on other.
The photons from the sun
reach our atmosphere
and then something blue happens on our sky.


By creating day,
and in it’s absence
beneath the horizon,
Sun is the giver of life,
the giver of TIME.
We celebrate the return of sun
to the same place it was
when we were born and call it
our Birthday.

Today is Henry’s TIME.
Sun – an invitation to life
Henry – a time traveler
to the past or future
to a time or a place
of importance in his life.
Sun and Henry,
they are always back,
time in, time out.

Everything seems simple,
until you think about it.
Each moment
is slow and transparent
as glass
if you have a chance
to revisit your past,
or your future.

Everything we notice,
a thought, sensation or emotion,
comes wrapped up with a feeling
and an evaluation.
But we have no chance of ever
seeing anything
‘just as it is.’
Henry comes back,
with the enlightened eye
of a disinterested observer
he can see…
his past, his present and his future
with a perfect objectivity.

The story continues in 1977
The first date’
Henry is thirty-six
and Clare just six year old.
He appears naked,
straightens his shaky legs,
proudly raises his unshaven chin
and turns his cloudy eyes
on her:
Appearance can be deceptive,
please help me,
I am just a seasoned traveler.’


We instinctively pull away
from what we see as a threat
and move towards
what we see as a reward.
Henry is wild and austere
and Clare just an innocent child,
choked off by a cosseted upbringing.
They take a picnic
up to an hidden grassy area,
a life secretly shared
by two people from opposite ends of time.
They are so much opposite,
they come around
and touch on the other side!

The First Date’ repeats in 1991
Henry is twenty-eight,
Clare twenty.
Love is only the beginning,
companionship was the start.
Two people looking for each other
wandering
What is it missing from my life?
Nothing can undo the wrong
we have endured throughout our lives.
I am trying to live without either hope or fears,”
explains Henry,
was a schoolboy when imprisoned first time
for gross indecency.
By the end,
Clare had tears streaming down her face.
“I have always had the daydream of having a space
where I’ll be surrounded by beautiful things
and YOU by my side all day.”

Clare whispers:
And you are back in my life,
what a wonderful surprise.”

The next day,
she left the work,
walked quickly to her car
and headed for home,
full of beautiful things
and Henry …
Nearby was a naked street walker,
feeling his way along the fence,
as she roared past,
she caught a glimpse of his startled eyes,
his emaciated face…
Henry,
but there was no sight of him
any more,
She drove out of town
and didn’t stop
until she reached home,
full of beautiful things
but no Henry by her side.
END OF INNOCENCE;
LIFE BEGINS…

Life is a continuing struggle
we are deeply committed
to survive…
time in, time out
waiting
patiently waiting
for better TIMES.

If you are IN TIME,
not knowing…
you are FREE,
trust me.”

Henry said to Clare in 1995.
He comes back in the middle of the night
from his time travel to the past
visiting the car accident
he survived
26 years ago,
the car accident,
where his Mother died:
Things happen once,
only once,
knowing about them in advance
…”
Henry stops suddenly,
thinking about the future,
when Clare’s Mum
dies in 1998,
from cancer:
does not change a thing,
accusation only runs forward,
you feel trapped,
most of the TME.”


.
Henry’s tireless fascination
with the minutiae of life
helps him remains
in the moment,
yet ahead of pack.
Never keeping still,
constantly exploring
all the possibilities
of contrasts and extremes,
diametrically opposed experiences
keeps Henry energized
to seek out
what is at the edge of life.
Sometimes it is good…
Most of the time
he really misses Clare
and wonder what could have been,
if he was
IN THE HERE and NOW
all the time.
He knows that:
HIS TIME IS RUNNING OUT.

The rushing against the time
speeds the aging process,
we are all terminal,
no one escapes THE TIME.

Deciding good or bad
is integral part of our perception
we prefer eating to not eating,
stimulation to boredom,
but nothing is automatically good in itself.
Even water is potentially lethal
if taken in excess.
Yet it goes against the grain
to realize
that too much of good things
are fatal.
How to find the perfect balance?

Our bodies are always working
to maintain an ideal
between whole range of opposites
the sleep-wake cycle
then tension-relaxation of muscles
the acidity-alkanity of blood
just few minutes of
dangerously low blood pressure
to brain
and we are dead.
Stress is bad for us
but it may take years
before it strikes us down.
We don’t need to be ‘time travelers’
to know our time is running out.

And yet we don’t know
how out of balance
we can afford to be
what TIME really means
in our non-stop
over-stimulated societies.
A dreadful waste time
is our daily threat
What if
we had an abundance of TIME
lying half awake in bed
to contemplate
and make sense of our lives
before it is too late.


In 1996 his DNA is checked
for the special gene, that defy the rules of time.
Henry tells the doctor everything:
The beginning,
the learning,
the rush of surviving,
the pleasure of knowing ahead,
the terror of knowing things
that can’t be averted,
the anguish of loss,
the silence of death approaching…
The doctor listens,
facing the classic physician’s dilemma:
“ How do I treat this patient without killing him in advance?”
Scientists mapped the human genome,
today they build the first synthetic life.
Science fiction is science,
the future means progress,
but the humans are the ones
where the trouble really lies.

THE LONGING OF THE ONE
ALWAYS DISPLACED BY A WHIM OF TIME
TIME IN
TIME OUT


THE LONGING OF THE ONE
ALWAYS LEFT BEHIND
TIME IN
TIME OUT


In 2000 they continue in their married life,
an extended essay in love
muddled by mundane everyday disagreements,
time restrictions
and limits of human connections.

Miscarriages are difficult to talk about.
In the midst of grief
bereaved parents
often encounter
embarrassed reactions
to their plight.
Clare’s immense grief
it was the HERE AND NOW
they did not want to be…
a deep pain which will soften…
until it is time to try over again…

Happiness is better than despair
but life consists of sadness too
It has its own depth,
its own delicacy,
its own taste.
A man
who has not known
sadness
is shallow
Even his laughter will lack depth.

In 2002 their daughter Alba
was born
love without walls
love without limits of time
love with open arms
another ‘time traveler’
trying to reach for an infinity of stars.

NOW is her time,
Alba starts
her first steps
the most interesting journey of her life…
She is more independent ‘time traveler’
empowered with free will,
ready to choose a middle path.

Clare watches her in awe
waiting,
waiting patiently for HIS return.
Being,
always being
a soft place
For Henry
to land
time after time,
until his last.

In 2006 Henry looses his feet,
shivering, white and cold
appears from his past…
He leaves hospital
in a wheelchair,
neither manhood nor future,
continues living on a borrowed TIME.
In 2006 Henry dies.

A cycle of the moon
defines the month.
When the full moon rises,
hunters walk out into the night
and see it alive
with animals and birds,
they shoot and kill.
Henry was in their path.
Moonlight is a nighttime concert,
a time of its own..
The change of the moon phases
marks out the feminine cycle,
Clare waits patiently
for Henry to die at home.

Finally he comes.

The stillness of dying
a fleeting moment
we want to last forever
going back to what is it
we want to leave behind

Too much living in the light
can dazzle and deceive us.
Too much past or too much future
to live all over again
can be self-defeating
Living NOW and only NOW
enable us to respond
to life
and the world
as it is
without the complicating hazards
of times between.

SUN AND MOON
TWO DIFFERENT INVITATIONS TO LIFE
THEY ARE ALWAYS BACK
TIME IN; TIME OUT
NO SIGHT OF A ‘TIME TRAVELER’ AROUND

At the end of our time,
we are left,
old, alone and blind
to lost opportunities in life…
there is only one thing left to do…
we wait
to feel
for one LAST MOMENT
the tenderness of love…
















More by this Author


Comments 22 comments

lmmartin profile image

lmmartin 6 years ago from Alberta and Florida

Hi Beata, Glad you had a good read. I have to admit, I did not enjoy this book -- twice as many words as necessary to tell a tale with no point. That's pretty much how I felt, trying to read this collection of disjointed details around an improbable romance. Halfway through the abundant words, I developed this strong sense of impatience -- I wanted to yell, get on with it. But as I read further, I became even more impatient. Not to get to the point, but because there wasn't one.

I know the book was very popular due to publicity of the unusual hook, but ... I also find it hard to read a story spanning decades entirely written in the present tense. I discarded the effort a few hundred pages before the end.

There you have it. Aside from a few interesting quotes, it was a thumbs down for me.

On the other side -- photographs and thoughts are terrific and they are a thumbs up.


Beata Stasak profile image

Beata Stasak 6 years ago from Western Australia Author

My dear Lynda, Thank you like always for your honest comment, I can feel your passionate voice in your writing and thought VOW!

Our world is such a rich place because we have so many different tastes, opinions and likes...and that is really great.

I loved the book, i was ready for a slow space and many beautiful words...they inspired me to take many pictures in nature...images are just like words, they can be beautiful and still can tell you something, if you are ready to listen...

I am happy that you liked the photos and quotes, always happy to hear from you, always my first and the most honest critic...I am very happy to have you...love from Beata


Mentalist acer profile image

Mentalist acer 6 years ago from A Voice in your Mind!

I am happy to suspend my logic and ramble through the stream of conciousness in a plot that involves the imagination of science:)!!


suziecat7 profile image

suziecat7 6 years ago from Asheville, NC

I haven't read this book yet but might give it a try. Thanks for the interesting review.


Beata Stasak profile image

Beata Stasak 6 years ago from Western Australia Author

Thank you my fellow hub readers, sometimes it is good to leave logic behind and just enjoy...IMAGINATION of what would happen if...:)

Some readers passionatelly hate this book and others love it, we are all different and there is so much to choose from after all...


rebekahELLE profile image

rebekahELLE 6 years ago from Tampa Bay

I read the book and loved it, although quite sad. I felt the same impatience at times until finally I simply read it and didn't try to follow the timeline, then I understood more what the author was writing.

I really love what you did with your writing here, incorporating it into sections from the book and your own images and thoughts. very inspiring. beautiful work. :)


Beata Stasak profile image

Beata Stasak 6 years ago from Western Australia Author

Thank you my dear Rebeka, happy that you like the book and my reflection on it...hate it or love it it is the only way I can write:)


H P Roychoudhury profile image

H P Roychoudhury 6 years ago from Guwahati, India

You have plenty of beautiful pictures of nature as if they are preserving the beauty through mum’s the word.


Beata Stasak profile image

Beata Stasak 6 years ago from Western Australia Author

Thank you my dear friend for visiting me, most of the pictures is taken around my farm in different time of the day and in different seasons...you can find beauty everywhere if you take time to look:)


Beata Stasak profile image

Beata Stasak 6 years ago from Western Australia Author

Thank you my dear friend for visiting me, most of the pictures is taken around my farm in different time of the day and in different seasons...you can find beauty everywhere if you take time to look:)


sammyfiction profile image

sammyfiction 6 years ago from Australia

Hi, I really like your take of this novel :) It is really well put, and though I have never read the book, I can see the story. Weldone on the review! :)

Sam


Beata Stasak profile image

Beata Stasak 6 years ago from Western Australia Author

Thank you so much dear Sam for your lovely comment, I am very happy that you have enjoyed it, hopefully you come back to read some more again:)


Lgali profile image

Lgali 6 years ago

very nicely written hub thnaks


Beata Stasak profile image

Beata Stasak 6 years ago from Western Australia Author

Happy you liked it Lgali:)


nell79 profile image

nell79 5 years ago from United States

I haven't read the book though I did see the movie--before I knew it was based on a book. I thought it had promise but it failed to deliver on that promise. So I ended up looking up the book to see if it was something I might want to read. I decided not to. Probably because even though I don't really write that way, when reading I love happy endings and ever afters haha. Anyway, you've done a great review here. :)


Beata Stasak profile image

Beata Stasak 5 years ago from Western Australia Author

Thanks Nell79, we all wish for 'Happy Endings' do we? The harsh reality is for real life, in our books we want to dream, I am fully there with you:)...thanks for visiting me, hope you come back again....hoping with you for love forever and ever afters, if you find it let me know so I can believe it exists, ha,ha,ha


jjackson786 profile image

jjackson786 5 years ago from Pennsylvania

I loved this book. Such a hopeless romantic :/

"Her Fearful Symmetry" was definitely not one of my faves though!


Beata Stasak profile image

Beata Stasak 5 years ago from Western Australia Author

It is great to be romantic, at least sometime, Jj... and thank you for stopping by...very appreciated:)


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

I read the book that you're describing but I didn't enjoy it very much. However, I did enjoy your reflections and your photographs! Thanks for sharing your thoughts.


Beata Stasak profile image

Beata Stasak 5 years ago from Western Australia Author

thank you dear Alicia, it happened to me few times that people actually didn't like the book but liked my reflection about it...good books are open to many interpretations...I can honestly say there is only a handful of books that I have read that failed to enrich me in some way...


Chasing Riley profile image

Chasing Riley 5 years ago from Los Angeles

I read this book a log time ago but remember enjoying it. I saw the movie after that so I have the images stuck in my mind. It's interesting how you did this essay on the book. I've never read anything like this. You seem very intelligent and creative.


Beata Stasak profile image

Beata Stasak 5 years ago from Western Australia Author

Thank you my dear fellow hubber, I have been very sick at the time so I think it reflected in the story as well:) When I feel down, physically or emotionally I tend to pick a book to read and look for the comfort there...it is interesting to see even for me...looking back...different reflections I write about the same book, all depend on the state of mind and my body at that time:)....happy you liked it even if it was little bit too sad:)

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