Just finished listening to “Kim” by Rudyard Kipling.
I use a terrific free service called librivox.org
Their purpose is to provide a worldwide selection of books in the public domain for download as text or read by volunteers. It’s a beautiful project that is all volunteer. “Kim” is read by someone named Adrian Perzellus and he is wonderfull, does all the characters, very talented and professional, yet an amateur, who does it for the love (amatore), of it.
I had read “Kim” back in 6th and 7th grade along with a bunch of other books deemed as young adult fiction, books that were usually well illustrated and captured the interest of kids like me. Among them was “Treasure Island” and “Robinson Crusoe”; all three of those books I re-read about 8-9 years ago and saw that what I had read as a kid were, (of course), abridged versions of the original. Well, those were kids editions. The full editions of those three books are definitely for grown-ups. Not in the sense they contain anything (still) considered inappropriate, but what the actual story lines were.
“Treasure Island” deals with the consequences of growing up in a house of an alcoholic abusive father, sure there is adventure but what sets it into motion is a too often true story.
“Robinson Crusoe” is great story about survival and the details of practical and psychological and spiritual ordeals one would encounter, and how one changes as the result of facing, day after day; the unknown. The last 1/4 of the book deals with life after being rescued and returned to civilization. Among the many things I learned, was a lot about wolves and their interface with humans was like for probably thousands of years.
Anyway, I read them previously in full editions and had recently download “Kim” and listened to it again. When the weather allows I go for a daily walk and listen to these librivox.org offerings. (It took me about 14 months to listen to David Hume’s “History of England from Julius Caesar to the Revolution of 1688”.) I was astounded, and so very sorry that I hadn’t encountered David Hume before the age of 70, but that’s one of the drawbacks of the autodidact approach to learning (although it balances out, because one does get educated but not necessarily organized).
So, in listening to “Kim” again, I heard things I don’t remember reading and I gained a new and deeper admiration for the author.
The book is about the meeting of many cultures in a certain place and time as experienced by the two main characters. A Tibetan Monk on a spiritual quest and a 13 year old biracial/ethnic orphan trying to find his way in the world and grow up while discovering his personal history.
It is in my top 5 of all the books that I’ve read, and I’ve read many; many of them from the great spiritual literature of the world and an array of disciplines.
The language, the respect for humans and their natural ways, and aspects of the seeking for Truth and re-connecting (Re-ligare), to That which one feels disconnected from, yet know not what it is; is of a very high order.
I wept softly and shortly about a dozen times while walking this Fall and Winter and listening to the story of Kim. It is elegiac and completely human. It’s about love.Each time I wept a little it was with a smile on my face and gratitude in my heart for that book being written, published, printed, forgotten, found, read and posted on The Web for us to hear as someone far away reads it and 140 years later does justice and brings a soft heart to a beautiful story.
This is the kind of true story that transcends and encompasses, the fear and doubts that are omnipresent in our daily culture today, also, it is the story of how we got this way. Empires, power, subterfuge politics, greed and the daily life of most beings who show practical kindness day in, day out, to each other; even as the world seems to be on the edge of falling apart.
Throughout, the book offers the truth that the world does inevitably fall apart, but its not a problem.