There is always a book next to my white chair in the morning-- several, in fact, but there's only ever one that will meet the specific call of a particular morning.
Of course, I can never know which book that will be as I never know what kind of mood I will be in when I wake up-- I always like to think I will know, I like to plan like I have any kind of control over it, but the fact is-- I'm always surprised. Although living with myself as long as I have, I have to admit, the surprise has given way to a kind of expectation that there's no way of knowing.
An expectation for surprise? Is such a thing possible?
Anyway, on the floor next to the chair is a small stack of books that are my comfort, my go-to volumes that support me through whatever vibration I happen to be caught in. Thank god for people who write books. Seriously, thank god. What would I ever do without their thoughts, their reflections, their observations, their sharing of how they navigated the mercurial shifts of life?
These volumes, there aren't many-- maybe three? Five? Seven total-- surely not more than seven. Constitute my personal keep-my-shit-together library. I would never say they are dog-eared because that's a goddamned cliche plus, it's not true. My dogs' ears are soft, clean and perfectly trimmed. My books are worn, creased, scribbled in, weak, barely holding it together, much beloved.
When a switch happens -- one morning I reach for the book that has been feeding me lo, the past few weeks or days and find that it no longer speaks to me (insert caveman sound of confusion oh-urRRH?)-- and I must switch to another source, I try to analyze why a particular volume is speaking to me.
But I can never figure it out-- all I know is suddenly it FILLS me and lifts me and sets me on my course for the day.
The past few days it has been The Principles of Uncertainty, by Maira Kalman.
The thing about this book is I want to share page after page with you--- but you can't lift just one page out of it-- just one photo, just one illo. The whole thing feeds one, into the next, you follow along with her-- she takes you into her mind, into her heart-- what she sees and the result is pure poetry, pure art.
It's been nearly four years since this volume joined my stack of bibles (cause that's what they are, right? Isn't that how people use the bible? They read it for comfort, the comfort of repetition-- the comfort of revisiting a story you have read countless times only to find yet another level in the story you had previously not felt or experienced because you couldn't access that level since you hadn't had the life experience to open that door, yet) and I honestly don't know how I lived so long without it.
Today is Monday - a positively exquisite morning of sunlight, cloudless skies, soft, warm air-- and such a thing of beauty can overwhelm me. Seriously-- it's like it's too beautiful-- I can't take it all in-- I don't feel worthy-- I don't deserve such beauty-- there's so much it needs to be shared-- I don't know what I should be doing in the context of such gorgeousness--- how do I stay connected to this sacred energy and honor it-- when I have work to do-- stupid work-- be like the Shakers, no doubt and make all work a thing of grace-- but still, I am not Shaker (though I wish I were except for the celibate bit-- yeah, not so much with that, but thanks) so I waver.
Do I walk the dogs at the beach? the farm? the streets?
Do I sit and try to absorb it all through meditation and focus?
Do I practice yoga?
Do I make a bowl of oatmeal and eat it with my coffee as I watch out the window-- people walking their dogs-- step, step, stop to sniff-- step, step, stop to sniff-- children headed to school-- a little boy's black yarmulke barely hanging on to his blond curly head as he runs down the street to keep up with his big sister, white fringes flapping-- guy on a bike, no helmet, one pant leg rolled up to expose a pale, hairy leg-- he looks happy.
Maybe I should go for a bike ride?
Actually-- I do what I always do. I write. I write until I feel that overwhelm shift off and am ready to start the day-- be in the beauty, be in the magic-- I just slide in like you might after standing at the edge of a lake for a long while thinking about going in until finally you realize you are up to your hips anyway so might as well slip under and let the water carry you away.