It has become the time of year to think of vacations and look for some good books to take with you. Not only do you want to get away from your mundane life on constant crisis and uneventful adventures and shake off the doldrums of the cold grey winter months cuddled in blankets staring at the constant stream of young beautiful badly acting like English aristocrats of yore or athletic police, doctors or lawyers implying a fantasy we all wish we could live.
The sun comes out and we are compelled to go outdoors and dig in the dirt. Yet the sun is hot so we wander to where the waves crash or the water falls on the rocks.
Packing up all the ‘stuff’ we can stuff in our motor vehicle we gather our family for a distant destination full of expense, frustrations, consumption and possible illness. Vacations are for losing ourselves.
A book, unlike a television show or a movie or even a play, takes some effort of the reader. The pace can be as fast or slow, as you want. The characters with the finest descriptions to details of clothing, hairstyles, surrounds, are individually visualized in the mind of self-reference. Read aloud and find a tone for each voice in quotes. We get lost in every delicious word and phrase presented to us in black and white by someone somewhere who can imagine what we can only marvel at.
Not every book is a far away fiction of wizards and dragons or romance that could never really happen but there is also factual documentaries and biographies of historic events and celebrity figures who have made significant changes in our history. For a few pages we are whisked away to times and places lost in ourselves.
Then the alarm goes off and reality rears its ugly head and the day-to-day list of chores and meals and doctor visits and car repairs and laundry and checking the coupons for the best price of toothpaste returns.
Yet every year there are thousands more printings of books of every sort with each author taking a different slant on their passions and ideas.
Every afternoon (or at least as many as I can do according to the weather) I make time to rock on my front porch and just lose myself.
The other night I see this tall black man walking slowly across the street. It is somewhat usual because the only black men seen in this neighborhood are city workers cleaning the streets, filling in potholes or removing trash or wearing UPS brown uniforms. Not to say this is not a diverse neighborhood but there are few smoking jalopies parked on neatly manicured lawns so as I watch the cars come back to their empty shells neatly in rows one behind the other as ‘neighbors’ rush inside to ponder what movie to watch with delivered pizza, I rock and watch this tall black man slowly walk down the sidewalk. Then I hear a child’s voice. A small nappy-headed boy is following him and my anxiety drops. He and his son (I make the association in my head) must live around here. He turns the corner with his son on his shoulders and I think, “Good poppa”. How quickly perceptions can change.
So I’m leaving for my morning adventures following my daily routine and stop to wait for traffic. There is a man in a yellow tee-shirt walking down the road. He is not on the sidewalk but in the street. It is 7AM and there is no traffic but I wait for the old man to pass. He appears old by his stance and pace and the walking stick he is carrying but not using. He looks up under the brim of his red baseball cap and says, “Good morning” to which I replied the same. He would have seen like some quirky old guy out for an early morning walk or looking for his dog except for one item. He had a pistol stuck in his waistband. It was not some kind of peashooter but a large caliber pistol protruding from his trousers. “What would this guy need to carry a gun around at this time a’morning?” “Did he have a permit to open carry?” “Was it loaded?” “Was this guy up to no-good?”
Not wanting to become part of his story I quickly pointed my steed in the opposite direction and did not tarry.
Observing reality can present more tales and adventures than any book and you are the author, thus losing yourself in life.