In this week’s reading Mary Anne returns from her trip to London, her first trip out of the country since she learned about her diagnosis. When she returned, Mary Anne and Schwalbe talked about Karen Connelly’s book The Lizard Cage, the novel Mary Anne loved about Burma. Schwable talks to us a little bit about the book, “The book starts with a little boy, an orphan, and tells the story of his interaction with a political prisoner, a songwriter named Teza… Teza a Buddhist must capture and eat raw lizards, breaking his faith by killing and consuming something that lived in order to survive himself; this is just part of his torment, though a potent symbol of it.” (129). Schwalbe thinks of The Lizard Cage as being extremely powerful. He mentions that The Lizard Cage is a book that, “Speaks to our need to connect with each other, to tell stories and to pass them on especially through writing.” (132). As Mary Anne and Schwalbe are sitting together while chemo is flowing into her arm; Mary Anne asks Schawalbe, “What do you think of the amazing prayer Teza says to himself after that horrible beating?” (132).Mary Anne then mentions to Schwalbe the Buddhist meditation that Teza uses to calm his mind and to put aside physical pain:
He starts to whisper “Whatever beings there are, may they be free from suffering. Whatever beings there are, may they be free from hurtfulness. Whatever beings there are, may they be free from ill health. Whatever beginings there are, may they be able to protect their own happiness.” (133).
Mary Anne seems to like the phrase about, “Protecting your own happiness.” Schwalbe then asks, “But how can you protect your own happiness when you can’t control the beatings?” (133). Mary Anne responds by saying, “That’s the point, Will. You can’t control the beatings. But maybe you can have some control over your happiness.” (In her mind replacing the word beatings with cancer) (133). In this week’s reading, Schwalbe learned something about Mary Anne over the course of their book club, “Never make assumptions about people. You never know who can and will want to help you until you ask. So you should never assume can’t or won’t because of their age, or job, or other interests, or financial situation.” (135).
What are your thoughts on “Protecting your own Happiness?” Are there certain obstacles that you have to go through to protect your Happiness? What is your opinion on Schwalbe’s response to Mary Anne when he questions, “ But how can you protect your own happiness when you can’t control the beatings?” (133). Do you agree with Mary Anne when she says, “You can’t control the beatings. But maybe you can have some control over your happiness.” (133). Can you relate this to your life as a college student? If yes, how?