Excuse me for starting off like a 19th century philosopher of the male European variety, but as I have deepened into the experience of being this being that I refer to as Me, I have noticed how much I require Story in order to thrive. I crave good stories like sunshine, water, essential nourishment. Sometimes, I feel like I eat books, ravenously.
Inspired by Liam’s audio books, I have begun listening to stories, primarily via podcasts like This American Life, FreshAir, Afropop Worldwide and The Moth, while I do quiet types of housework (ie not the dishes) or yoga practice.
So, my Zen practice does not resemble the practice of when chopping garlic, simply be chopping garlic. It is more of this nature: when chopping garlic, listen to a compelling story and chop said garlic more mindfully because you are moving at the speed of listening closely.
Visiting the library leaves me feeling like a rich woman. As a child, I would return once a week throughout summer vacation with a towering stack. I remember the day when I looked along the familiar bookshelves of the young adult section and could find nothing unread. It was paralyzing for a moment until I realized (or more likely my mama suggested) that I could go into the adult section. I am tempted to dramatically declare that I never looked back, but of course there is always so much to find in children’s and young adult fiction, so that would simply be untrue. My reading world did, though, widen ever so much from that moment forward.
As a kid, I liked to climb a particularly well-situated pine tree on our property line and graft on to my perch. With a bird’s eye view of the sleepy neighborhood and a good book in hand, I was content to let the summer days pass.
When my oldest child is resistant, if I can find a bit of narrative to weave into our moment, he becomes hooked like a fish and will follow me just about anywhere in good cheer. Truly, he spends his days steeped in story of his invention. I have adapted to requests to play by providing a bit of narrative structure and he is glad to do the rest of the work.
These days, I read whenever I can. It is one of the ways I consistently choose to relax. In the Artist’s Way, by Julia Cameron, it is recommended to take a week’s break from reading anything at all in order to see what arises from within. She states that “blocked creatives” will take refuge in the creations of others. No doubt, I say. I am approaching a place of willingness to try this experiment, nearly four years after reading the prompt.
My non-fiction read of the moment is Far From the Tree: Parents, Children and the Search for Identity, by Andrew Solomon, and I am working my way slowly through this most evenings. It is thick with experiences of parenting children who are strongly different in some way or another from their parents. It is very thought provoking and inspiring.
Upon reflecting, I see that I am not currently reading a novel, but I am also consuming the essays of Islands, The Universe, Home, by Gretel Ehrlich. I am enjoying her writing after so long away from it, she is so deliberate and evocative in her wording. And, here I find, the more I write, the more words I wish to use.
One longtime daydream has been to run a bookstore, café, yoga studio, garden, nature center, etc. So, for the meanwhile: blog book talk, anyone? What is on your bedside table this mid spring or playing alongside your daily work?