Reading ‘The Secret Garden’ inspires me to find direction in life
Published: Jul 04, 2024 08:50 PM
Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

The best approach to choosing your life's path is to read. I firmly believe it. In some way, I can prove it to you by sharing my experience of reading The Secret Garden

A girl's story 

First published in 1911, The Secret Garden is a children's story written by British-American novelist Frances Burnett. 

I was immersed in a unique experience the moment I opened this book. At that time, I had to get ready for the eighth grade, and I felt the pressure of school. It bothered me from time to time, so I tried to make myself feeling better and more positive through reading. This novel was my path to happiness. 

It starts out in a dismal atmosphere, and I quickly warmed to Mary, the protagonist. Despite the fact that she was "selfish, disagreeable, and bad-tempered," I still get the impression that her loneliness is what led to all of her undesirable traits. 

She also had to deal with the tragic loss of her parents. I would not have been able to accept this reality if I were her. It surprised me that Mary later discovered a way to pick herself up. She discovered a new realm thanks to Robin and a garden.

In the garden, Mary found every day filled with things to do, including looking after the sad prince Colin, meeting the sincere gardener Ben, and playing with the animal-lover Dickon. That's the life Mary wanted! The ivied wall, the gorse on the moor, the roses and leaves, all plants "made the garden alive." The only word I could think of while reading was "magic!"

Deep emotions

The moment I finished reading this book, I realized that it was not just written for children. So I started to think about the meaning of life.

Is the garden and society the same thing? My answer may be "yes."

There doesn't have to be a real garden for ourselves, but just an inner space. Traveling, shopping or just taking a walk can help us "escape" the cruel facts of reality for a time. After that, I choose to travel around Yunnan Province to get a magnificent view of nature. The book also told me how to face failure and pain. I learned that I couldn't immerse myself in sadness for such a long time. Just as Tagore once said: "Shed tears when you miss the sun, then, you will also miss the stars."

We should not only focus on spiritual changes, but also our surrounding. In my opinion, nature is the hero who saves everything. Maybe you can get yourself out of negative emotions with a glimpse of bunches of exquisite flowers. Maybe you will be shocked by lively tall trees and leaves. Maybe you get keen on a special plant and spend all your time finding them... Needless to say, Burnett thought highly of nature, and it will surely be beneficial to humans if they get closer to nature. It is a good idea nowadays. We should appreciate nature, even a normal tree by the street.

In the beginning, "Mary was disagreeable." At last, "Mary has the bravery to explore everything." In fact, there is something in common between these two points in her life. 

We can use our "disagreeability" to fight against failure, and then we can be "brave." Turning a disadvantage into an advantage, that's the first step we learn about ourselves. I always try to achieve it, so did Burnett.

During Burnett's childhood, poverty was a part of life, even though her family owned a factory. Burnett experienced a hard life at a young age by working in a steel factory. She was poor, but her mind was never poor. Since the day she started writing, she regarded everything as bright sunshine. She wrote her books mainly for children. 

In this way, she could get something meaningful from her childhood. She brought children relaxation, happiness and real love.

Besides the novel The Secret Garden, the author also created some other wonderful works such as A Little Princess and Little Lord Fauntleroy. The former book depicts the life story of a young girl called Sara. She was intelligent and kind, and these qualities inspired me to be a girl like her. 

Although Burnett was born in the UK, she finally settled in New York, the US later in life. In Central Park's Conservatory Garden, a statue commemorates the creator. Instead of depicting her image, the art piece consists of two of her most renowned book characters, which are Mary and Dickon from The Secret Garden

Reading is a lifelong journey. You may always be confused with philosophical questions like "To be, or not to be," but reading can help you choose an easier and more suitable way to enjoy your life.

The author is a student at Nanjing Jinling High School