Holding a Book in Your Hand

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Someone told me the other day that they believed in dating several people at once for a while and taking lots of time to get to know each one, before deciding which one was compatible and suitable for an exclusive committed romantic relationship.  Their thought was that it made more sense to know about compatibility, rather than spending 4 or 5 months in a relationship before splitting up because of incompatibility issues.  They saw it as a waste of 4 or 5 months… jumping into a relationship so quickly after several dates just because sparks were flying.

I see it differently.  I have been in several wonderful relationships over the years, and each one started exactly the same way…we met, liked each other, went on a few dates, sparks were flying, and we started a relationship, concentrating on just each other. We took the leap of faith and each time were rewarded by the depth and pleasure of learning about each other and how we were together as a couple. There’s nothing like being so INTO each other…and that’s almost impossible to achieve when one is dating more than one person.  How is it possible to really get to know on a very deep level….several people at the same time?

Being in the dating world is like being in a large bookstore.  We all have our own tastes and qualities that we are looking for…so you might be browsing the travel section and I might be in the Fiction section.  But imagine being in the Fiction section…with all those titles to choose from…each one a very unique person to date. You grab 7 or 8 titles that look interesting and study the book jackets… and 4 really spark your interest. You scan the title page and read the first page of each one…but you can’t really juggle all 4 very easily.  Do you skim here and there from each one?  A page here, a paragraph there. Back and forth. One book to another book to another. Are you really getting to know any of these books in any great detail?  Wouldn’t the other books be a constant distraction? How do you keep track which page is from which book? Do you keep on picking out more books?

Wouldn’t it be better to choose the most appealing book, and settle into that cozy leather chair for a delightful read? Savoring the beautifully written passages, charmed by the whimsical illustrations, smiling as you turn each page.Reading it cover to cover. It might even end up being a book you want to read forever, discovering new things every time you open it up.  But the only way to know that is to set the other books aside for a time, while you explore the world of that one very special book in your hand, a world you never knew existed until that moment when you chose not to skim….but to truly read.

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His Mind Was In Motion

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A Boy and His Dogs

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Have you read Where The Red Fern Grows?

My 4th grade teacher, Mr, Bringolf read it to us in class and I loved it so much I asked for the book for Christmas.  It still has a place of honor on my bookshelf.  It’s funny how a book about a boy and his dogs in the Ozarks during the depression had such great appeal to a girl living in bland white bread suburbia….but the book touched me on so many levels.  I think its one of the greatest love stories ever written, and the very sad ending just added to the depth. It’s so beautifully written, and even at 10 I could recognize how certain words strung together were beautiful in themselves, and the story is about such a simple pure love….the boy for his dogs, the dogs for their boy, and the love the dogs share for each other.
We had a family dog, growing up….our beloved Snoopy, a shaggy black and white mutt.  He was a medium size dog, but considered himself one of us kids and also thought that our laps were the perfect place for him to drape himself.  I have a great picture of my younger brother David, sitting in a recliner chair and overwhelmed by this big grinning creature.  He was so loving and friendly and goofy and was loved just as much right back.
I know families that have dogs that aren’t so well loved…the dogs play a small role and while fed and watered, certainly don’t receive the affection they deserve.  Have you seen that? The dogs are relegated to a mat off in the corner, or spend their days in the garage. I am always so sad for those dogs; you can always see the yearning in their eyes. I don’t understand why you would even have a dog, unless it became a big part of your family.  Why would you not want such love?
In this big ol world, love manifests itself in so many different ways……a boy and his dogs, a girl and her cat, a man and his gerbil, a woman in New Jersey who at this very moment is sipping a tall mocha latte double whip and staring lovingly towards her walk-in closet filled with shoes….
Love is grand….no matter how we find it…and in that pure spirit I wish you a very happy Valentine’s Day.
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The Invisible Landscape

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“Erslebet persuaded her husband to come to bed early.  She waits for him there.  As he enters the bedroom, he senses her perfume unfolding around him, a narcotic atmosphere of musk, ambergris, vanilla, iris, rose.  She prepared this invisible landscape for him to cross.”

-Jody Shields, The Fig Eater

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His Cottage in the Woods

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Let me tell you dear readers, about a man who lives in a cottage in the woods. He built most of the cottage himself and the lines are clear and strong, much like this man himself. He loves his life there, on his land, with a good strong house and a dog to keep him company. It’s peaceful and serene, a harbor away from the stormy outer world.When the windows are open, the sultry beat of John Coltrane drifts out into the clear evening sky along with the yeasty smell of fresh baked bread.

But there’s one thing missing in his cottage in the woods…a woman to grace his table and his world. He pictures her there, sharing the evening soup, his dog lying under the table and he pictures her in his bed, happy flushed face as they kiss and kiss again. He imagines her smiling in the doorway, viewing his cottage, his life, his cozy life and  walking in, to sit on the loveseat where they embrace. He has so much to tell her, this woman, so much to share, to give.

He begins to search for this woman, first near and then far. Here and there,  kind women say hello, and he sends them playful letters, that smell of pine needles, smoky fire and starlit skies. He sends a light wisp of air kissing the woman’s wrist before floating away.He weaves stories to circle the woman’s waist and draw her closer still.

He waits, and he is patient, for just the right woman to respond. One who sends letters that smell of cinnamon and cloves, who is quick to laugh and even quicker to passion, who satiates his mind with bountiful dialogue and never-ending curiosity. Who wants to join him there, in his cottage in the woods.

The pen is still scratching across the page, so we don’t know yet what happens with this man, dear reader, but we do know this. We know that love is the most powerful force in the universe, and we know that if we have an open heart……love will always find a way.

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The Mystery of the Divine

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“Her eyes rest on his, or his on hers.  Green-flecked.  He feels a tug.  A continent still unexplored and he about to leave! A pang, a tiny pang of loss, shoots through him.  Pain not without pleasure, like certain grades of toothpaste.  He can conceive of something quite serious with this woman, whom he will not see again.

“I know what you are thinking,” she says.  “You are thinking we won’t see each other again. You are thinking what a wasted investment.”

“What else do you see?”

“You think I have been using you.  You think I have been trying to reach your mother through you.”

She is smiling.  No fool.  A capable player.

“Yes.” he says.  “No.”  He draws a deep breath.  “I’ll tell you what you really think.  I think you are drawn, even if you won’t acknowledge it, by the mystery of the divine in the human.  You know there is something very special in my mother, yet when you meet her, she turns out to be just an ordinary old woman.  You can’t square the two.  You want an explanation.  You want a clue, a sign, if not from her, then from me.  That’s what you think.  It’s all right.  I don’t mind.”

Strange words to be speaking over breakfast, over coffee and toast.  He did not know he had them in him.”

-J.M. Coetzee, What is Realism?  Best American Essays 1998

 

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Words Lead to Deeds

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