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Small acts of kindness…

March 11, 2016

I recently came across a book with these opening lines:

To Selma Kohn,

          How many words in this book.

          They are meant for remembrance. As though words could carry memories.

I bought the book just for these opening lines.

My decision made easier because it is Kafka – a collection of letters to friends and family – and because I was in one of my favorite used bookstores in Toronto – She Said Boom on College Street, whom I like to support whenever I can.

“As though words could carry memories…”

A hint of doubt. Nostalgia. Forgiveness.

How many words in this book.

                        They are meant for remembrance. As though words could carry memories.

            For words are clumsy mountaineers and clumsy miners. Not for them to bring down treasures from the mountains’ peaks, or up from the mountains’ bowels.

            But there is a living mindfulness that has passed gently, like a stroking hand, hot and glowing, strong and mighty, and you stare into it as though spellbound by its magic, then-

            But no one can write himself into this kind of pure mindfulness with unskilled hand and crude pen; one can write only in such white, undemanding pages as these.

September 4, 1900

~~~~~~~~~~

            My father-in-law said something interesting today that reminded me that once the word is published, it leaves your hand, and then has a life of its own.

He was telling me over coffee that he had received yesterday’s blog post from me and he began to read it not realizing that there were photos as well – that due to a slow internet connection (is there any other kind in rural Canada?) the text was there for him to read, but there were not yet any photos.

So, after he read the opening passage from Scriptures, I seemed to immediately go into some symbolic discussion about the “gate”.

He thought I was getting into some really interesting symbolism writing, maybe even into some surrealism, which he thought was a really interesting new path my writing was taking.

_DSC7165But then the photos started to download themselves and he realized that I was merely being literal – describing our farm the way it is.

Once he realized this, he said he was less interested in what I was trying to say.

The reader draws his/her own conclusions, chooses to open or close the book.

Interpretation is everything.

~~~~~~~~~~

 My mom says that the little white birds I described seeing yesterday – a species of birds I had not seen before – are called Snow Birds.

She says you will only ever see them that one day that you do. The next day they will be gone.

They do not stick around on their summer migration north. They land and then they are gone. Ghosts.

You are either lucky to be outside at the right time – as I was yesterday – or you miss them.

She told me that one day when she was much younger, she went outside one early spring morning and there must have been 200 of them in the backfield.

When I was outside yesterday there were 5.

Still, better than none, I suppose.

 

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