My sister-in-law turned me onto a great series of detective fiction books by Canadian writer, Louise Penny. I am so hooked on Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Surete du Quebec—I think I may have a new addiction.
The particular joy of this character—and this author – is that the books are very psychological. It’s not about the CSI details of solving a crime but—and this is what I love—it’s about what makes human beings tick. That’s the thread of my life work: Why am I the way I am? Why are you? And why is he and she and them?
Early in the first book of the series, which is called, “Still Life” Inspector Gamache is explaining his work to a young apprentice. He says to her:
“I watch. I’m very good at observing. I listen to what people are saying and their choice of words, their tone. What they aren’t saying. And this is the key. It’s choice. We choose our thoughts. We choose our perceptions. We choose our attitudes. We may not think so. We may not believe it, but we do. It’s all about choice.”
And as they talk he continues:
“Life is choice. All day, everyday. Who we talk to, where we sit, what we say, how we say it. And our lives become defined by our choices. It’s as simple and as complex as that. And as powerful. So when I’m observing, that’s what I’m watching for. The choices people make.”
Those paragraphs really stopped me. What are the choices of the people around me? What are my choices? Can I make new ones right here in this moment? And what life are my choices adding up to?