I’ve been unmotivated of late, starting to write, then abandoning the topic. I sit and stare at the blank screen. Well, the screen is not entirely blank. There is that cursor blinking away at me, taunting me, daring me to write something clever, or profound. I type a few words, then read them over and over, then hit the delete key.
I look for inspiration. I read other blogs. I check the news. I check the topic suggestions at the dailypost site. Nothing seems to grab me. Then I notice a suggestion about books that have changed your life. Now, I’m a life long reader, surely there is at least one book that has changed my life. So I started to think about some of the books I’ve read and if they had indeed changed my life.
As a young girl, I was shipwrecked on an island with a magnificent black stallion. I helped my friend, Nancy, solve crimes. Then as a teenager I visited Middle Earth. I discovered the truth of Bokonon (a useful religion can be founded on lies) and was along for the ride when ice-nine quite nearly ended the world. I emerged from a slaughterhouse to see the devastation of war.
In college, I traded in Vonnegut for Aquinas, Heidegger, Kant, Sartre, Zuzuki and Stephen King. My mind was opened to new, sometimes radical ideas. Around this time I journeyed to Arrakis and rode sandworms with the Fremen. It was here that I discovered that “Fear is the mind-killer.” Though it was much later that I realized the full meaning of this statement ~ that people who are afraid are much easier to control and manipulate than the critical thinkers of the world. It’s why much religious dogma and political rhetoric is couched in fear. It is why I prefer to be a subversive free thinker.
As an adult, I’ve been at the center of political intrigue. I’ve flown an A6 Intruder over war ravaged Vietnam. I’ve watched as reality was changed by a young man’s dreams. I was there when Charlie Asher learned of his new job as a collector of souls. I’ve hitchhiked through the galaxy with Arthur Dent and Ford Prefect and now know the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe and everything ~ spoiler alert, it is not a prime number. I’m still solving crimes, though now it’s with my new friend, Stephanie. And while I understand her attraction to Joe, the former bad boy with a heart of gold, I find Ranger to be far more intoxicatingly seductive. That may explain some of my choices in men through the years.
Most recently, while on a trek around the globe in search of bliss, I came across a handwritten sign by the side of a road in Bhutan that gave me pause. The sign said, “When the last tree is cut, When the last river is emptied, When the last fish is caught, Only then will Man realize that he cannot eat money.”
Yes, books, or more specifically the reading of books, have allowed me to travel to exotic places and brave new worlds. I’ve even glimpsed heaven through the eyes of a young girl. I love to read because of the places I can go, the dreams I can share, the ideas I can ponder and the knowledge I can gain. Books have helped me to discover that, as Henry Miller said, “One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.” I’m not sure if my mind is open because of the books I’ve read or if having an open mind has led me to my reading choices. Perhaps it is a little of both.
Still, I wondered what books have changed my life. Then I remembered Lady Chatterly’s Lover. I read this book in 8th grade, even did a book report on it. I remember my teacher asking me if my mother knew I was reading this book. Yes, she did, though I’m not sure if she ever read it. I don’t remember much about the book except the scene where Connie runs out of the cabin and Oliver follows her. It’s raining and they have sex outside in the rain. I always pictured a meadow. Now, I wasn’t having sex in the 8th grade, sex was still a few years in my future. I do remember thinking that having sex in a meadow while it was raining would be quite delicious.
All these years later, I still think it would be quite delicious. I still haven’t had sex in a meadow while it was raining or while the sun was shining, but I have been close. By close, I mean in a truck while stopped on a country road at a railroad crossing while a very long train slowly rolled by. We were sure the guy behind us knew what we were doing, though luckily the guy behind us wasn’t a member of law enforcement. The next time I had sex in public, it was raining. I was in a car and the car was in a car wash. It was deliciously fun, but still not a meadow in the rain fun. My only other sex in public experience occurred at a resort hotel pool. It was late at night. It wasn’t raining, but there was a beautiful moon and quite a few stars out as well as a few people near by. It was fun, but I still fantasize ~ okay, obsess ~ about that meadow and the rain.
Another book I read around this time was The Sensuous Woman by J. Apparently, this book was so scandalous when it came out in 1969 that the author didn’t want her full name attached to it. I read this book in the 9th grade. My entire 9th grade class read this book. If you’ve ever wondered what Catholic school girls read, now you know, or at least you know what they read in the early 70s.
Again, I don’t remember much about this book, except the part about tongue exercises and the suggestion that a great way to practice tongue dexterity was with an ice cream cone. You could swirl the tip of your tongue around the top of the ice cream, or take long slow licks up the sides of the ice cream. Of course, after reading this, we had to try it out. So we went out and bought ice cream cones and practiced our moves. To this day, I cannot eat an ice cream cone without thinking of this book and then practicing a few tongue dexterity moves. I always smile whenever I see someone enjoying an ice cream cone and wonder if they are secretly practicing their moves. I’ve never looked at an ice cream cone in quite the same way since reading this book. Of course, now you probably won’t either.
So there you have it, books that changed my life in subtle and not so subtle ways. I’m still hoping for that meadow and the rain, but until then, ice cream, anyone?