While on holidays I read My Invented Country: A Memoir by Isabel Allende. It was a chance reading as I purchased the book at a second-hand store. Once I began reading it, I could not put it down and finished it in one sitting. A line that stood out was “I can’t pretend to know what part of my memory is reliable and how much I’ve invented, because the job of defining the line between them is beyond my ability. I have read that the mental process of imagining and that of remembering are so much alike that they are nearly indistinguishable.” We imagine the life we live as much as we live the life we live.
Isabel Allende recounted her love for the poetry of Pablo Neruda. My favourite Pablo Neruda poem is Ode to My Socks. This is the last stanza: The moral of my ode is this:/beauty is twice beauty/and what is good is doubly good/when it is a matter of two socks/made of wool in winter. I remind students, when they write poetry, reveal the ordinary as the extraordinary. The knitting of socks was an act of love as was the wearing of the socks.
Kathy picked up a book by Paulo Coelho knowing how much I enjoy this particular author’s books. A line about life and its meaning is “A strange transformation began to take place: now that she had the bird and no longer needed to woo him, she began to lose interest. The bird unable to fly and express the true meaning of his life began to waste away and his feathers to lose their gloss; he grew ugly; and the woman no longer paid him any attention, except by feeding him and cleaning out his cage.” With meaning in life, we discover beauty and fulfillment or, perhaps, they discover us.
Paolo Coelho spent time touring Europe including Spain and one result was his best-known book, The Alchemist. Spain was the homeland of a poet I enjoy, Antonio Machado. The following lines are from his poem, Cantares: “Traveller, the road is only/your footprint, and no more; /traveller, there’s no road, /the road is your travelling. /Going becomes the road/and if you look back/you will see a path/none can tread again.
There is never a shortage of great reading. We only have to find it.