Yesterday I made the ninety mile journey to Bellingham to meet a friend. I asked her to pull out her magic wand to change the weather, and as I arrived, the big yellow ball emerged. I had time to walk the beach and capture some photos, finally getting some blues. The spots on the camera may just convince me to learn to edit my photos, but I wanted to share them anyway. My friend met me at the coffee shop and we talked for a while, our conversation turning to the value of self-judgment in our lives, and whether or not it was helpful to classify our past actions as bad or good.
We later walked into a bookstore, my goal to find a strange book, something that would jump out at me. We wandered the unfamiliar shop until we found the philosophy section, where I could have settled in for a while, if there had been a better selection. I handed my friend Marcus Aurelius, Meditations and asked her to open to any page and read one. She opened the book and invited a distant guest into our earlier conversation:
If you suppose anything over which you have no control to be either good or bad for you, then the accident of missing the one or encountering the other is certain to make you aggrieved with the gods, and bitter against the men whom you know or expect to be responsible for your misfortune. We do, in fact, commit many injustices through attaching importance to things of this class. But when we limit our notions of good and evil strictly to what is within our own power, there remains no reason either to bring accusations against God or to set ourselves at variance with men.
We traveled the store and I searched for my lonely book. A full wall display was almost overwhelming, until I was drawn to the yellow cover. Yellow, like the paint I’ve been waiting to brush on the walls of our play area. I didn’t see the title, but opened the book and began to read. I was instantly drawn to the lyrical language and clutched the book to my chest. My friend came around the corner and I told her a book jumped out at me. She said, “Leaped out at you,” and I looked at the title, Leap. We moved on and I found a seat as she browsed poetry. I opened the book to the beginning and began to read the memoir of a woman raised in the same religion I observed for the first seventeen years of my life. Her descriptions of events and feelings mirror mine. Her questions and quirks are my own and I can’t wait to find out what she’s discovered about herself, and whether her early questions have been resolved.
After we made our purchases, we walked down the street and entered one of those pottery painting tea shops designed just for such meetings. We almost sat down to paint. I walked through the shop, touching the pots, trying to find one to represent my day. I suddenly remembered a time in my childhood where I attended a mother/daughter church event where I had to paint a ceramic jewelry box. It was actually quite pretty, in a heart-shaped, Victorian way, something I would never have in my own home now. I believe it rests now in my mother’s basement bathroom. Still plain, solid pink, a reminder of my lack of creativity, or interest. We did not invest in the experience yesterday, but may return again with our daughters. But first, I have another book to read.