There is no book or story I love more than Victor Hugo’s exquisitely written Les Miserables. A beautiful (and long) story of redemption, love, sacrifice and life set in revolutionary France. I first read the story in high school and absolutely fell in love with the book and then the musical. The musical is equally extraordinarily. I own both the 10th Anniversary and 25th Anniversary Dream Cast recordings on CD/DVD and the movie version on DVD. I could watch it every day of the week.
When I first read Les Mis, I fell in love with the story. As an adult, I have ready it two more times and I love it more. Funny how a little life experience changes the reading experience. I found this to be true in re-reading To Kill a Mockingbird as well. The subsequent times I read Les Mis, the themes of redemption, pure selfless love, and sacrifice became really meaningful.
Victor Hugo once said, “We are all under a sentence of death, but with a sort of indefinite reprieve.” The problem with this reprieve is that nobody knows the length of their reprieve. In the midst of our busy lives, it is easy to get lost in craziness forgetting that our reprieve is not infinite. All too often, it takes a gut wrenching loss or diagnosis to remind us that tomorrow is not promised.
Jean Valjean, Hugo’s main character in Les Mis, could have chosen to live a bitter life as Javert pursued him relentlessly over stolen bread, but he chose a different path. Rather than live an embittered life, he chose a life of selflessness, love, forgiveness and sacrifice that ultimately led to his redemption. Much like Jean Valjean, we too have a choice. We can choose a life embittered by our circumstances or we can choose a full life – a life that is full of love, experiences, selflessness and even forgiveness.
Many people choose to exist and that’s all. Before you know it, it is too late to do the things they dreamt about. Don’t sit dreaming about your goals, places you want to see or experiences you want to have, go out and and make them your reality. One hundred and fifty five years later, Hugo’s tale of redemption, love and life remains as timely as the day it was published. So what are you waiting for?