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East of Eden: Barbara Brown

Excerpted from East of Eden by John Steinbeck, published by Penguin Books.

Contributed and read by Barbara Brown: "Thank you for listening and for sharing your Thoughts. It has been an inspiration and a pleasure. The website [www.holdthisthought.org] remains active."

While Hold this Thought has done everything I ever wanted it to do -- start conversations, refer people to new sources of good reads, inspire reflection -- it's simply too much work for one person. When it took off nationally, everything just quadrupled. I want to spend time with my family and my LIFE, and not spend so much time on the computer every evening and weekend. I like my life to stand on many legs, but Hold this Thought made for a one-project life.

I am enormously grateful for the good Thoughts that came my way, for the wonderful literature and real live people I met. For the enthusiasm you showed during recordings and for the thoughtfulness you added to the world.

Old Thoughts never die; they circulate around in email and bubble up in Google, so people still find them and think about them.  

This is Barbara Brown, and this is the last broadcast of "Hold this Thought." I thought it only fitting that I close by sharing a Thought from one of my long-time favorite books.

In East of Eden, John Steinbeck writes:

'A child may ask, "What is the world's story about?" And a grown man or woman may wonder, "What way will the world go? How does it end and, while we're at it, what's the story about?"

I believe that there is one story in the world.... Humans are caught -- in their lives, in their thoughts, in their hungers and ambitions, in their avarice and cruelty, and in their kindness and generosity too -- in a net of good and evil. I think this is the only story we have and that it occurs on all levels of feeling and intelligence. Virtue and vice were warp and woof of our first consciousness, and they will be the fabric of our last, and this despite any changes we may impose on field and river and mountain, on economy and manners. There is no other story. A man, after he has brushed off the dust and chips of his life, will have left only the hard, clean questions: Was it good or was it evil? Have I done well -- or ill?'

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn: Hunter Guarino

Taken from A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith, published by HarperCollins.

Read by Hunter Guarino: "This excerpt in the form of a simple plea is a reminder to embrace every facet of the precious time we have." Hunter, a lifelong Alaskan, is a sophomore at West High School. In her precious amounts of spare time, she loves practicing karate, acting, reading, writing, spending time with friends, and investigating all things Tolkien. She also loves improving her vocabulary and defeating world hunger by going to www.freerice.com!

In A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith, the main character, 15-year-old Francie Nolan, reacts strongly to the declaration of World War I and what it might mean:

'"Dear God," she prayed, "let me be something every minute of every hour of my life. Let me be gay; let me be sad. Let me be cold; let me be warm. Let me be hungry ... have too much to eat. Let me be ragged or well dressed. Let me be sincere -- be deceitful. Let me be truthful; let me be a liar. Let me be honorable and let me be sin. Only let me be something every blessed minute. And when I sleep, let me dream all the time so that not one little piece of living is ever lost."'

The Trap: Sarah Baird

Taken from The Trap by John Smelcer, published by Macmillan.

Contributed by Jane Baird. Read by Sarah Baird, a prodigal Alaskan, back from five years of studying and working in Washington, D.C., and still dubious about her ability to survive the winters. Sarah is the community coordinator for Anchorage Public Library's ANCHORAGE READS program, and hopes you will look out for upcoming events on the website.

The Anchorage Public Library's Community Reads program features books about Alaska Native culture. In The Trap by John Smelcer, Johnny must decide whether to go after his trapper grandfather in plummeting sub-zero temperatures in the Alaskan wilderness.

"Ravens may be among the most intelligent of creatures. Johnny had once watched a dozen ravens steal scraps from a wolf trying to protect his meal. While the others stayed a safe distance, one raven grabbed the wolf's tail and yanked it until the annoyed canine turned and chased him into the forest, momentarily abandoning his prize to the murder of ravens that quickly fell upon it. And no one in the village had ever seen a raven nest or hatchling. It was almost as if their presence in the far northland was by magic. And yet they were as ubiquitous as the changing seasons. It was no wonder the raven had become a central character in the myths belonging to Johnny's people."

The True Meaning of Smekday: Sherri Douglas

Taken from The True Meaning of Smekday by Adam Rex, published by Hyperion.

Contributed and read by Sherri Douglas: "On an autumn hike, I'm willing to believe in the possibility of fairies dancing beneath mushrooms, so it is no surprise that I've often succumbed to magical thinking when faced with grief." Originally from the Land of Lincoln, Sherri is a 25-year resident of Anchorage, where she lives with her husband, daughter and dog, Rosie. She spends her days working with youth in the Anchorage Public Library and her nights mostly reading. Sherri would like you to look at Charity Navigator.

In The True Meaning of Smekday by Adam Rex, a young girl is suddenly left motherless and alone.

"I think there's a part of the brain, probably somewhere in the back, that won't give up believing in magic. It was the part that made cavemen believe that drawing elks on stone would make for a good hunt the next day. And it's still chugging along, making you think you have lucky socks, or that your kids' birthdays will win the lottery. It made me think I could stop time in the cemetery with a wave of my hand, or summon Mom to my side with her name. Currently it was very busy, thinking over and over about how to go back in time, and what I should do when I got there."

The Legend of Bagger Vance: Lucian Childs

Taken from the movie The Legend of Bagger Vance from the book of the same name by Steven Pressfield.

Read by Lucian Childs: "In our lives, good things happen, but bad things do, too. We have regrets, we try to forget." Lucian is a graphic designer and writer living in Anchorage.

In the movie, The Legend of Bagger Vance, golfer Rannulph Junuh, the character played by Matt Damon, drinks to forget what he experienced in World War I. Young Hardy Greaves asks him a question, and Junuh replies:

"Now, the question on the table is: how drunk is drunk enough? And the answer is that it's all a matter of brain cells. ... You see, every drink of liquor you take kills a thousand brain cells. But that doesn't much matter 'cause we got billions more. First the sadness cells die so you smile real big. And then the quiet cells go so you just say everything real loud for no reason at all. That's okay, that's okay, because the stupid cells go next, so everything you say is real smart. And finally, come the memory cells. These are tough sons of bitches to kill."