47. i'm in love…

with a book. And it’s not Harry Potter.

It’s a strange, strangely beautiful (my favorite kind) book called The History of Love by Nicole Krauss. I’d tell you what it’s about but I’m not entirely sure yet. I could tell you what’s happened so far but that’s not what the book is about.

I knew the book was cool from the moment I pulled it off the New Releases shelf at Borders. I do that from time to time. I look for interesting titles or cool cover art (you can’t judge a book by its cover? you can). I flip right to the first page and scan. If the language doesn’t grab me by the end of the second sentence (usually I never get past the first phrase) I close the book and choose another, usually with the same results. Every once in a while I’ll find a book that has me to the end of the page but no further. Sometimes I make it to the end of a chapter.

I needed a book for the trip I took a few weeks ago with the band, Harrison, and I (thought) I need a book to read on the airplane. The History was the last book that held my attention to the end of the first chapter so that was to be my trip book. Turns out I did far more sleeping than reading on all three plane rides (two there, one back). I re-read the first chapter, but not much more than that. Back in Hawaii it became my bed stand book, something to settle me into sleep. And night by night, bit by bit, it grabbed my attention and then my heart.

Here’s a sample sentence:

Once upon a time there was a boy who loved a girl, and her laughter was a question he wanted to spend his whole life answering.

Here’s a couple paragraphs from further in the book:

“And though you were grown up by then, you felt as lost as a child. And though your pride was broken, you felt as vast as your love for her. She was gone, and all that was left was the space where you’d grown around her, like a tree that grows around a fence.”
“For a long time, it remained hollow. Years, maybe. And when at last it was filled again, you knew that the new love you felt for a woman would have been impossible without Alma. If it weren’t for her, there would never have been an empty space, or the need to fill it.”

Amazing, amazing writing…and like good writing does, it got me thinking.

My love for this book. That little short story thing I wrote a few blogs back (titled Heroics but I’m thinking about going back to the old title, “and she was tired of talking so he told her a story”). The long drive I took back home from Rocky’s house on the North Shore (I took the long way back). All these little things – tiny and otherwise insignificant – are signs of life for me.

It feels like I’m waking up from a long, deep sleep – a sleep that lasted for over ten years. After the Last Great Relationship (which wasn’t really that great or much of a relationship but as single as I’ve been for all my life, it’s huge) ended, bits of me fell asleep. The ability to feel joy went first. I also lost my inspiration – I was an aspiring songwriter then and there was a time when I was trying to finish two or three songs at a time, but after the LGR, they stopped coming. And then my ability to love not just people, but also things like books and songs and art and the purple glow of twilight. And then most recently, the part of me where hope is made and maintained turned out the lights, said it’s prayers, then went to sleep. After that, I was nothing more than an organ transportation unit, because what more can a man be without hope?

But I’m waking up now. Bit by bit, pieces of me are opening their eyes, stretching their legs, brushing their teeth. Feelings I’d forgotten about are surprising me. My love for this book, that short story. A few weeks ago while cleaning my studio I looked over at the piano, opened it up, and wrote the first few lines of a song. And best of all, I have a new hunger to hear from God – and, wonder of wonders, he’s speaking.

I’ve been wrong about a lot of things but I’m starting to make them right again and I’m finding that right thinking leads to right living and that pleases God and when God is pleased, anything, anything, ANYTHING can happen.

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