flicker in the dark

A Flicker in the Dark by Stacy Willingham

I felt like I needed a good beachside-esque book. I may be reading from a bunk bed in South Dakota instead of a lounge chair in the sand, but you understand the idea. A murder mystery to get lost in. Something to balance out the headiness and sublime beauty of Shantaram with the historical prowess of Yuval Noah Harari. This is Stacy Willingham’s first novel and she did an excellent job.

There’s a good life lesson in all these “who done it” murder mystery novels: don’t be so quick to jump to conclusions because things aren’t always as they appear. It was a throwback to my days in quarantine where the only books we had were a bunch of tattered and torn murder mystery novels the CO’s left up there for us. Ala “Where the Crawdad’s Sing” this was another trip down to the Bayou and Louisiana, although the imagery and culture of that area did not play as large a role in this novel as it did the former.

When you see the title “A Flicker in the Dark” and notice all the firefly’s it makes sense but only on the surface. In a deeper way, I feel she’s referring to a moment in time. Many moments in the protagonists life plagued her present being. The story isn’t so much about how to manage those emotions, but brings the concept to the surface and reminds me of a passage attributed to Marcus Aurelius:

“Were you to live three thousand years, or even a countless multiple of that, keep in mind that no one ever loses a life other than the one they are living, and no one ever lives a life other than the one they are losing. The longest and shortest life, then, amount to the same, for the present moment lasts the same for all and is all anyone possesses. No one can lose either the past or the future, for how can anyone be deprived of what’s not theirs?”

It’s an eloquent lesson that has been floating around in my mind lately as I try to remain present here. I’m confident I am going to wake up tomorrow and eat oatmeal for breakfast. There’s no guarantees, but it’s extremely likely. However, that is then and this is now. So whether now is good or bad, whether tomorrow looks promising or bleak, you have to appreciate what you have, what is. Being present mirrors, to a degree, the idea behind gratitude – wanting what you have more than having what you want.

This is a divergence from the essence of a murder mystery tale, but one of the parts I’ve grown to like about reading a couple books at the same time. Enjoying that interplay and convergence.

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