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Response to John Steinbeck quote from "East of Eden"

Updated on February 23, 2016

I made a promise to myself that I would not consider enjoyment a sin. I take a pleasure in inquiring into things. I’ve never been content to pass a stone without looking under it. And it is a black disappointment to me that I can never see the far side of the moon.

~ East of Eden by John Steinbeck

John Steinbeck, 1962
John Steinbeck, 1962 | Source

It is a black disappointment to me that I can never see the far side of the moon. Every question I leave unanswered, every stone unturned, is a lost opportunity to grow. I read every book, pamphlet, and poem I can get my hands on, for the sheer purpose of knowing that I have not missed anything. To every request, I say yes, for it would be a shame never to know the good that could come of it, the bonds that could be made, or the memories that could be savored. What if the next book you read, the next documentary you watch, or the next conversation with a friendly stranger could be exactly what you need? It could hold some vital piece of information, an inspiration for your latest idea, or a concept that could change your entire view of the world. I ask these “What if?” questions not to create paranoia, but to expand my mind to consider every possibility and encourage myself to go the extra mile in an effort to become a better person than I was yesterday.

To ignore an opportunity is to say to the world, “I do not want to be anybody. I do not want success. Please, someone, take it from me.” These same, foolish, ignorant people are often found complaining that they are not as smart, not as important, or not as well off as others. My single goal in life is to avoid falling victim to the allure of the lazy. I cannot stand when people complain about their situation, yet turn their nose up in disdain at every chance they are given. If only they would simply open their eyes at the wonders all around them, they could find fulfillment and happiness.

I believe the pursuit of happiness and the pursuit of knowledge are one in the same. Although the truth can be hard to swallow, I believe it is infinitely better to know the truth than to remain ignorant and believe lies. I believe curiosity is one of the few, pure joys left in this world. For what other purpose could we be placed on this earth other than to seek pleasure and knowledge? And what is more fulfilling than quenching that thirst through innocent curiosity and discovery? A successful person is one who can retain their childlike curiosity, even through hard times and old age. You can spot them easily by the spark in their eyes when they see one of nature’s marvels, be it a falling star, a setting moon, or hundreds of tiny ants all marching in a row. Question upon question will whirl in their heads like bees in a nest, and they will think and wonder and imagine for hours, all because of a single sight. These people are truly happy, because they will never cease to be amazed by the world around them. Forever intrigued, forever seeking more, they will never be completely content, but at every new discovery they will be continually enthralled.

I have often heard people say, “Never regret something that once made you smile.” I vow never to regret the times when I have stayed up late into the night, devouring the pages written by my favorite authors, who become only ghosts in my mind as I fall deeper into the books and take on the traits of my favorite characters. I will never regret sitting quietly in the woods, matching the songs to the different birds, and examining the vein patterns of the leaves. I will cherish the conversations I have had while waiting in line at Chipotle, finding shared themes in the lives of strangers, and realizing that humanity really is not so bad. Most importantly, I will never cease to be amazed at the little wonders in this world, and I will never stop yearning for knowledge until I have seen the far side of the moon.

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© 2012 ReverieMarie


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    • ParadigmEnacted profile image

      ParadigmEnacted 4 years ago

      Steinbeck's least critically successful novel for that reason. Very self-indulgent, but that's what happens when something is supposed to sum up a person's whole life.

    • ReverieMarie profile image

      ReverieMarie 4 years ago from Tuscaloosa, Alabama

      I agree. :) It was so long, but wow was it good! It really makes you think. Thanks for reading!

    • ParadigmEnacted profile image

      ParadigmEnacted 4 years ago

      Quite a novel.