Sunday, April 21, 2013

The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett

I wish I had read this when I was a kid. What a beautiful book! I’m pretty sure I would have become obsessed with having my own garden, my own “bit of earth”. Maybe it would have been a little frustrating because I lived in an apartment (still do), in the middle of this gray, chaotic city, but I can see myself running to the park and watching things grow and feeling the magic.

Actually, I want my own bit of earth now. I think this book has made me realize how much I forget to enjoy life  sometimes. I spend so much time indoors, working and being tired that maybe I’m a little bit like Colin who just needed some fresh air and to discover the magic of things. Strangely enough, I do understand what Colin is talking about: that magic in life that makes us stronger and happier and that moves us in such a way (when we let it) that we also want to shout that we are going to live forever and ever and ever.

Mary Lennox is a little girl who lost her parents and is sent to live with his uncle in a big house in the middle of the moors. She is described as unlikable, rude and very self-involved. She does not like anyone and is not interested in anything. One day she discovers a secret garden that has been closed for ten years and it has such an impact on her, she starts changing that very same day. She later discovers she has a cousin, Colin, living secluded in the house, who thinks he is terminally ill and lives completely obsessed with his death. 

The transformation of Mary and Colin is the central plot of the book. They change drastically but it is not forced; it was completely natural, just like a couple of flowers in the springtime. And they are just that: give them enough sun, air, space to grow and a little rain and you have two gorgeous flowers blooming happily. 

The awakening of the garden leads to the awakening of Colin and Mary. They are both very similar: they both have been utterly neglected by their parents, have never really been loved by anyone and they have never loved anyone either. When Mary discovered the garden, she discovers a part of herself she didn't know she had: the ability to be happy and seek happiness. She opened both a physical and emotional door to a different place that seemed to be dead but was just “sleeping” and starting blooming as soon as Mary let it breathe. It is basically the same for Colin but with greater physical improvement. It shows the power the mind has over our health. Colin was not really sick, not physically; his mind was. 

I like the idea that nature heals us, in every way possible, and that healing the mind from all those bad, dark thoughts and feelings ends up healing our bodies as well. 

I could say I’m an expert in worrying too much, in focusing on the bad things. I am a pessimist sometimes, I have to admit that, but I have also experienced the difference when trying to think positively. I have been trying to make that effort and I have seen the results: it does seem that focusing on the misery only brings more misery but focusing on the positive side of things brings peace of mind and a sort of soothing feeling I wish I could experience more often. I know is up to me, but it can be very hard sometimes. I have to discover the magic.

I really enjoyed reading this book. It had a positive effect on me: I read it before going to sleep and I would finally fall asleep dreaming about the garden instead of thinking obsessively about work. It is an incredible thing the impact books have on our daily lives, isn't it?

I still wish I had a garden to go into right now. I feel that maybe I need to be healed too. 


Sam (Tiny Library) said...

This was my favourite childhood book, and I did nag my parents for a 'bit of earth', in which I planted daisies and pansies.

Glad to see you loved it too :)

Melissa Vizcarra said...

I loved it, it is one of the most beautiful books I've ever read. And I do really want my 'bit of earth' now! hahah. I've never had a garden of my own, always living in apartments. I will have one day and go crazy happy in it.

Luz said...

De niña vi la película y quedé fascinada. Ahora de grande, lo volveré a leer. Me encanta!!!, ya quiero que Mateo crezca para leérselo.

Melissa Vizcarra said...

Sí! Me hubiera gustado leerlo de niña! Es un libro demasiado lindo.

Lucy said...

This was a lovely post - thank you.

I remember enjoying the film as a kid, and so I really should read the book. One of my favourite things about returning home from university is the garden: as a countryside-born farmer's daughter, I end up craving time outdoors!

I love what you've written about nature being healing, and I hope that your positive thinking is going well. I've gradually taught myself to worry less, accept situations and be happy with what I've got. It's a slow process, but definitely worth it. I still get very tense muscles, probably because being tense makes me feel more in control. That's certainly the next thing for me to address!

It does sound like a lovely book to read before bed... it would be ideal for the exam period I have coming up.

Melissa Vizcarra said...

Thank you so much for the lovely comment, Lucy! I have started to actively work on reducing my anxiety and reading is very helpful.

The Secret Garden is wonderful. It made me realize that reading something soothing and positive helped me sleep better. I do recommend it if you have exams coming!

Lucy said...

Hi Melissa,

I've decided to include The Secret Garden in the anxiety section of my bibliotherapy book, and I'd really love to include a short story of how it helped you with your work stress :)

I've got a draft of something to include - with all names, job roles etc. changed - but I'd like to have your permission before I include anything!

If it's ok with you feel free to get in touch on the comment form of my blog or by emailing I can send you the paragraph for you to look through that way if you'd like.

Hope you're well!
Lucy xx