I spend a lot of time with my kids in the public library. As an avid reader it's always been a place I feel at home. I can remember the library of my childhood; an old building with squeaky wood floors. My memories of the the adult section convey a dimly lit room with actual lamps and an old wingback chair covered in velour fabric. I still get a thrill walking out the doors of the library with a new book in hand.
I've enjoyed experiencing the library through my kids' eyes. My daughter, recently emboldened with a library card of her own, does something I have never done and have avoided like the plague. She enters the library and heads straight for the help desk. Sometimes I follow behind and other times I go hide in the stacks. She tells the librarian what she's looking for, graphic novels being the current favorite, and off they go, on a quest to find a new book. We've discovered wonderful new authors and series using this method of actually talking to a person, (imagine that!), at the library.
So, when faced with a complexity in my own life, I frequently turn to books. Over time I've learned that I often stand to gain more from fiction and memoir than from instructional how-to's that promise to get your baby to sleep and harness your strong-willed child.
We all need strategies to help us cope and one that has been so useful to me (and free to everyone with a library card!) has been books. Often I'll be reading along and happen upon a sentence that resonates so deeply it'll jolt me out of my heavy-lidded almost asleep state. That's it exactly, I think to myself. You read my mind. And all of a sudden I am less isolated in my experience. Here are some of those words.
Forward by Abby Wambach. This conversation between kid Abby and her mom could have been spoken between my daughter and me.
"Abby, " she says, "you scored a lot of goals today. Don't you think it's important that your teammates become part of it?" I look up at her, confused, and ask, "Isn't the whole point to score goals?" She thinks on that for a moment and admits, "It is." "Well, I am the best one to do that. So if that's the whole point, I don't see the problem."
Devotion by Dani Shapiro. Oh, I love all of Dani's work so, but in Devotion I felt like she was literally walking inside of my brain and teaching me more about the why behind Orchid Story.
Yogis use a beautiful Sanskrit word, samskara, to describe knots of energy that are locked in the hips, the heart, the jaw, the lungs. Each knot tells a story - a narrative rich with emotional detail. Release a samskara and you release that story. Release your stories, and suddenly there is more room to breathe, to feel, to experience the world.
Truth and Beauty by Ann Patchett. A gorgeous and heart-wrenching journey of friendship and addiction. This passage strikes right in my heart to all the times I've frantically grasped for control in the midst of uncertainty. My eyes well up every time I read the last line.
I wouldn't give Lucy money anymore, but I'd buy her things or send an emergency rent check directly to her landlord. After we talked for an hour, I went online and bought her everything I could think of: pot holders and vegetable peelers and plates and pans... I bought her Tupperware. It was my own special brand of insanity that made me think the trials of Lucy's life could somehow be eased by the order of Tupperware.