There are books that nestle and swell in my ribs. I’m bursting with them, and yet can’t find words to do them justice. Sketching helps me explore, express and integrate.
I’m glad I bought Kent Haruf’s book, Our Souls at Night as a paperback. I don’t want to review it, measure its worth, attempt to explain its craft or even store it on my bookshelf. I want to honour something bigger, flowing, boundless about this book and many others.
Will this book find you?
I want to invite others to read Haruf’s novel and see what it offers you.
I sense our world would be richer, kinder, more joyful and caring if more of us had the opportunity to try reading Our Souls At Night.
And yet, I feel peaceful knowing that we each have our own path. We simply don’t have enough minutes to read every book in the world. You are in charge of your path and life learning.
The recognition and prevention of trauma feels like the most important work of anyone in the world. I know no surer way of stopping senseless suffering
The only healing and growth I can do is my own. As much as I benefit from others doing their own self-care and compassionate life-learning, I cannot make it so.
So I’m happy knowing I can hand this physical paperback on for someone else to experience in their own unique way.
The joy of giving it away … to a ‘stranger’
Now that I’ve read and sketched, I plan to give away this novel via a second hand shop. I’m enjoying the freedom that this copy will land with someone I don’t know … and someone who has no reason except their own to accept my recommendation.
This book will call someone if it’s helpful for their own life in some way at this time. And this book will be different for everyone because we read in ‘parallel’ with other writing. That’s the part I’m especially curious about at the moment.
Weaving the threads of your unique reading history
How does the book you’re reading right now call to your awareness other movies or poems or novels or nonfiction? Would you enjoy exploring that in imagery?
Every reader brings our own unique ‘back catalogue’ of books that shape, inform, extend the words in our hands right now.
As I grinned, winced and wondered my way through Our Souls At Night, I became acutely aware of how the act of reading is so unique. Every reader brings our own unique ‘back catalogue’ of books that shape, inform, extend the words in our hands right now.
As I read Our Souls At Night, I felt threads running out to Anne Tyler’s novel Dinner at the Homesick restaurant and Bessel Van Der Kolk’s nonfiction book The Body keeps The Score.
Why the link to these two books in particular? I’m finding it hard to put that experience into words too. I’ll try. I see three particular qualities that connect these works:
1. Shared reality. Recognising the presence of trauma in adults – it takes support and gentleness and vulnerability, as so much remains beyond our view. To me, the recognition and prevention of trauma feels like the most important work of anyone in the world. I know no surer way of stopping senseless suffering in our world – starting with the intention to learn kinder, wiser ways to treat ourselves … which I’ve seen flows on to our children/teenagers, animals and natural environment.
2. Nurture. All three books bear witness to how children and grandchildren can inspire us to recognise and prevent further trauma. My own children are my most urgent and joyful inspiration for seeking to heal trauma – to honour its strength, to grow from it and contribute to a safer, happier world. My struggle is accepting that for some people, the path of awakening to our own history seems too painful and pointless. As much as I can understand that denial, I also find it frightening to see resistance to our own wounds — in myself or others. I don’t want people to play their pain out on my children or me – nor do I want our society to abandon or reject people. These three books remind me to accept my longings and limitations – and more freely attend to the joy of finding ways that feel good to bring nurture to myself, my children, and my partner. I have a growing sense of safety in celebrating that their interdependence on my wellbeing is a gift. Contributing to our children’s happiness and enjoying companionship with a partner can be our greatest inspiration to gently heal and learn every day in every way we can.
I don’t want people to play their pain out on my children or me – nor do I want our society to abandon or reject people. These three books remind me to accept my longings and limitations – and more freely attend to the joy of finding ways that feel good to bring nurture to myself, my children, and my partner.
3. Hope. With growing self-acceptance and safe companionship, the books inspire me that it’s never too late to see and know the trauma we have experienced and also contributed to. I finished each book with optimism that right now, no matter what we or others have done in the past, we are free to fully savour comfort and pleasure and to choose how and when we contribute to this life we share.
If you’re reading a book at the moment, what others come to mind? Would you enjoy sketching a map to explore and integrate?
I’m also delighted to find Kent Haruf has a long back catalogue. Have any of his books touched you?