Right now, I want to think about the pleasures of life. Maybe it’s the gloomy weather outside that calls upon me to cheer myself up. There’s a thick, dark, ominous cloud hanging very low. It looks like it could just crush down and burst into water. The weather guys had predicted El Nino type floods for October this year. Last time, they made such a prediction, they were right. Their timing was wrong. The rains and floods came falling six months later. I could do well to dismiss them. But, we have seen heavy rains the last 2 weeks, heavier than the normal short-rain period of September.
Rains are good. They give us food. But please, not today, when I have no umbrella on me and I have to get to my destination walking. But this post is not about rain. It’s about cheering myself when the air around me looks thick, dark and ominous. I have a few passions that I choose when I need instant cheer. Actually, my passions are too many and sometimes I wonder if it is healthy. A mind that cannot settle on one passion, would we call it generous or confused? And what of hobbies that lead to nothing, such as relaxing in the sun pretending to get Vitamin D and daydreaming? do they count? Well, today, I will talk of my love for reading. That is normal. If only it paid.
I read in order to travel with my mind. I have had some opportunities to travel. I’ve been lucky. But sometimes, only after landing in a European airport does one catch a glimpse of a book about Asia. It’s not deliberate. The book calls you by names and drags you by some invisible string to itself. If you say no, and fail to heed the call, you could be punished with 7 years of remorse. There are other ways to be transported elsewhere, such as music. And I love music and will write about it someday. But even the longest song lasts 5 minutes. A great book can last a few precious days or weeks when going home becomes the highlight of your day. Or I may carry the book around just hoping that there will be a queue in the bank.
I have found myself delaying the finishing of a really interesting book because I don’t want it to end. This happens mostly in moments when I don’t have another new, unread book just waiting to be opened. The old book, when it starts nearing the end, I start to read a few pages. Stop. Tea break. Send a text. Do the dishes. Read again. To avoid such self-torture, best to have a new, unread book waiting to be read. I say new because I love the smell of a new book. A mixture of paper and ink and newness. How will my future Kindle compensate me for that loss of smell? Do they know that a sense of smell is so powerful, that loss of it renders many people psychologically scarred for life?
I also love the sense of touch. No, not touch screen. I mean that thing I do when I come across a beautiful sentence. I usually just touch that sentence, read it again, sometimes I go back to the start of the paragraph and then slowly, with awareness, I come back to that sentence hoping to get the same electric jolt I got the first time. Often, I may need to get some distance, keep reading and come back later for more. All times, I note the page and the start of the sentence. Then when I have a moment, I copy the sentence, or even entire paragraph down by hand so that I can keep it forever. I collect sentences. I don’t know where that will lead. And the sentences are so unrelated. Imagine a sentence picked up from Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat Pray Love and another taken from Dan Pink’s A Whole New Mind and another from the original French version of Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables. How could those three sentences be related in any way? They can’t even be cousins. I call them sentences, not quotes, because honestly, some cannot count as quotes. Quotes seem to me like some distilled wisdom.
Touching the sentence on paper makes it to enter my heart through my fingers. I have heard that there are some Freudian and Jungian interpretations of meaning when people who go on dates and one of them fingers a curvaceous Coca Cola bottle while looking at the other. It means something. I wonder what the two pyschos (I mean psychoanalysts) would say about my solitary touching of the words from a stranger’s heart. I would love to know. Tell you more later. Got a book to read.