Sometimes during those long, quiet meditative stretches of peaceful thoughts, we encounter a speed bump. A negative memory or some affront pops up and we may silently admit, “Ouch. That still hurts!” We thought that we had gotten over it, but we have to say, “Apparently not.”
It is still down there gnawing away while taking swipes at our peace of mind. So, we know that it is time to pull out the soap, the water bucket and the good ‘ole scrub brush and get busy doing some more deep inner cleansing. We hope that total healing will assuredly come our way as we remember that healing is always a work in progress.
Though we thought that we had successfully closed that chapter or era of our lives, we may discover that, “No. It is not entirely over.” It could be that there are still more lessons to be learned or perhaps we need to muster up some more forgiveness. But then, as we look down into our canteens of sensitivity, we may find that it is empty. There is no more balm to rub over things nor spread around.
So, we may have to just live with certain pain. There is no more energy left to give to those situations. We have been depleted and we come to the final consensus that we cannot give it any more thought. Nothing. Zero. Nada.
We cannot process any more pretentiousness, so we just shake our heads, and walk away with both heart palpitations and sweaty palms. We slow down our racing, thoughts and give thanks for the speed bump because It protected us from making poor choices. We press on after letting out a huge sigh of relief as we acknowledge that we must live with “the good, the bad and yes, even the ugly!”
My Twitter writer-friend, Val Poore stated that she liked ‘how one book leads to another.’ She was referring to the fact that I ended reviewing two books about life on the Native American reservations. Truly, there was one thread that ran through similar themes.
Rez Dogs is more of a juvenile piece which is written in prose by Author Joseph Bruchac. The protagonist, Maia, is stuck at her grandparents’ home on a New England reservation when the Covid pandemic shuts down the world. She is in for a lot of lessons about the differences from her prosperous life in Boston. A reservation dog miraculously shows up to comfort and accompany her during her stay.
Shortly thereafter, a neighbor handed me a copy The Night Watchman, an adult-themed novel, which also takes place on a reservation outside of Minneapolis. It involves the trafficking and detainment of a Native American woman, alcoholism with other forms of abuse. Again, we see how life on the reservation requires improvising by those living on scanty and limited provisions. These two books gave me new insight into the lives of those that we rarely hear about, period. Each left me filled with deep reflections as I admitted how much we take so for granted.
I recently finished Kaia Alderson’s Sisters in Arms. It is a fictional account of two black women who were WACS or Women in the Army Corps during WWII. Though entertaining, it was based on many historic events that the women experienced in the 1940’s. Alderson offered a light spin on Grace and Eliza’s lives which overshadowed some of the more brutal and scathing losses that the women endured as they ventured into new and unknown places.
And then, it happened again. I broke my stride to browse an outdoor book sale and noticed Fly Girl by Sherri L. Smith. It had a picture of a female pilot on the front. I picked it up and when I saw that it had been endorsed by Jacqueline Woodson, I took a second look. This time it looks like Ida wants to join the Women’s Airforce Service Pilots (WASP), but there is a problem here. Ida is black and it looks like she is light skinned enough to pass for white. She plans to use that to get her toe in the door. Hmmm. Military? WWII? Brave, adventurous women? Again, a common thread and theme.
So now, I move from the Native American reservations to two books about women of color in the military during WWII. It looks like I am in for a real treat as the thread stretches on to loop through these similar themes. I will read on to enhance by learning as summer winds down to a slow crawl as we inch towards the fall season!
Libraries are truly hallowed places! Sacred houses of great minds! I have spent so many hours waiting in libraries in a number of locations. I may have been waiting for classes to begin, work shifts to change or even waiting on someone. Here, I feature only five libraries from a very long list because if I wrote all of my memories from special libraries, this post would never end!
I used to drive my mother to teach her evening literature class at Prairie State College in Chicago Heights, Illinois. I would climb the stairs of the old library and wait for her to finish her day. There, I wrote and wrote and wrote and thus, my first novella in a set of seven was born. It is now published and titled A Golden Leaf in Time Revised! There is a newer version of the library but the old spaces remain etched in my memory.
I also waited in the stacks when I worked as a PT librarian at Christian Brothers University in Memphis, Tennessee. I am quite certain that I journaled and wrote but I distinctly remember perusing the works of Thich Nhat Hanh. His writings just seemed to fall into my lap and I was in for a real treat as I read to Breathe! You Are Alive! along with his many other works.
I recall sitting in a quiet spot, in a small cubicle with a window view at the Henry T. Sampson Library at Jackson State University in Jackson, Mississippi. Of course, I had to wait for some evening class to start and I do remember browsing a copy of The Chronicle of Higher Education along with other scholarly publications that were lined along the wall.
And then, there was the old Main Library in Downtown Chicago on Michigan Avenue which is now called the Chicago Cultural Center. It was beautiful, warm and welcoming with its long, winding staircases. But the book volumes outgrew those spaces and over time, the current Harold Washington Library was built on State Street. It has a different feel to it yet it is still filled to the brim with patrons. Its long, heavy wooden tables are truly any writer’s dream desk!
I will close with sharing precious memories of time spent in Boston Public Library’s Main Branch on Boylston Street, the country’s first free municipal library. I lived close by and walked there regularly. The library has so much character and each department is comparable to getting to know a lot of different people.
Each nook and cranny probably has its own stories. Sometimes, it felt as if the great writers from the lined shelves were whispering and saying, “Try me!” I heard some of them and picked up books such as Nina Simone’s I Put a Spell on You and the little-known younger Bronte sister, Anne’s books. I read all of her books and I felt as if I was watching her Mr. Huntington in action!
I could go on and on about the libraries that I have known and adored. They are one of the few places that all can enter for free and still leave with both fulfillment and an arm load of books and other materials. They are truly sainted places and spaces even if they have been altered, renovated and changed from the way we remember them. It makes me think of the Beatles’ In My Life. Push play and enjoy!