Monday, November 8, 2021
#312 / Public - Private - Secret
A new book, A Farewell to Gabo and Mercedes, has been reviewed in The Wall Street Journal. The book review is titled, "Love in the Time of Fame."
A Farewell to Gabo and Mercedes was written by Rodrigo Garcia, and is "a son's memoir of his parents and the passing of an era in Colombian literature."
As this description will probably let you know, if you hadn't already guessed, "Gabo" is the Nobel Prize-winning author, Gabriel Garcia Marquez; "Mercedes" is Mercedes Barcha, his wife. Gabo and Mercedes are pictured above in the late 1960s. Rodrigo is their son, who is currently a Los Angeles-based writer-director-producer.
I love all the works of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, though I know little of his personal life. The book reviewed is apparently not a comprehensive family catalogue, either, which will give the reader an in-depth look. Instead, it is a "slim personal memoir," documenting the death of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, in 2014, at age 87, and the subsequent passing of Mercedes, in August 2020, at age 88.
According to the review, Rodrigo presents the family as "a tight-knit clan," a "wheel with four spokes," and the family is still "something of a closed circle," after the reader has read what Rodrigo has to say. The two Garcia children grew up in a home "where 'the line between the public and the private' was strictly patrolled," and we are informed that Mercedes repeatedly advised her children that "we are not public figures."
The idea that a memoir would respect parental privacy, once the parents are no longer on the scene, seems excellent to me, and I particularly liked a statement attributed to Gabriel Garcia Marquez, that "everyone has three lives: the public, the private, and the secret."
Reflecting on my own life, I do think that is correct. As an elected official, I was privileged to have a significant "public life," which I relished and enjoyed. But I have always had a "private" life with family and friends, too, which I am delighted to have remain a "closed circle." And what about that "secret" part? Don't we each, deep in our interior, deep in our soul, have "private" thoughts, which we can think of as "secret" thoughts, thoughts which are ours alone - or aspirations thought of, perhaps, but never realized, or deeds done and regretted, or maybe even celebrated, but for ourselves alone?
Trying to maintain a proper distinction between our public lives, as citizens, our private lives in our many human relationships, and our "secret" thoughts that are really ours alone - isn't it good to understand ourselves this way? Out of our "secret" hopes and dreams comes the possibility that is the source of our freedom, our ability to do something new, and different, something never thought of or done before.
Something that can change the world.