This week I’m reading Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer, a book that a good friend recommended to me recently. It’s the story of a remarkably adroit 9-year-old boy named Oskar and his adventures around the five boroughs of New York City as he deals with a final challenge from his father who died in the September 11th tragedy. Throughout the book we see through the eyes of a headstrong yet anguished child trying to make sense of the world and how to live in it without his dad. Although I’m only about a third of the way through the novel, I came across a paragraph yesterday that truly tugged at my heartstrings and I wanted to share.
While having a conversation via walkie talkie with his grandmother who lives across the street, Oskar asks why matches are so short and that he thinks they should be longer because people are always running around with them before they burn out, or worse yet, burning their fingers. Oskar’s grandmother states that she believes they are made short in order for people to fit them into their pockets. Oskar’s response was a solution in search of problem: that we should have much larger pockets in order to have longer matches so that people would not hurt themselves. Later on that evening, while Oskar is lying awake in bed, he thought to himself:
We need much bigger pockets…we need enormous pockets, pockets big enough for our families, and our friends, and even the people who aren’t on our lists, people we’ve never met but still want to protect. We need pockets for boroughs and for cities, a pocket that could hold the universe. But I knew that there couldn’t be pockets that enormous. In the end, everyone loses everyone.
Although I can’t say with any certainty as I have not yet read the book in its entirety, but I think this must be the point in which Oskar realizes that the pain of life is unavoidable, and that life is moving on in the city, as it always does, big pockets or not.