Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Three Beautiful Things 01/18/16: The Reading Hiatus is Over, My No Thought is Contented Swim, Calming Brandy

1. My reasons for having taken a break from reading books really have to do with trying to separate myself from reading as an academic undertaking. I'm not sure I can explain that and, for now, I won't try. I'm back to reading again -- I finished Ann Rule's book In the Still of the Night this evening. It will haunt me for a long time. Reading again takes me back to when I was an instructor and that, along with a handful of conversations I've had online in the last few days, has stirred up memories of reading and teaching Into the Wild. A long -- maybe my longest -- blog post is brewing inside me -- and has begun to leak out in some of my conversation -- as I come to realize that that book, and how I worked with it in writing classes, came to epitomize what I valued most in teaching and why I thought we even have college courses in the first place.  All the thinking Into the Wild has triggered in me began in early April of 2000 in the parking lot outside Linda's Restaurant in Bigg's Junction, Oregon on a Greyhound bus, during a dinner stop,  as I traveled from Eugene to Kellogg to be at home during my mom's bout with cancer and as I recovered from spinal meningitis. I was on the only sabbatical I ever took at Lane Community College.  Into Thin Air, Into the Wild, my mother's illness, and my slow recovery from meningitis all conspired to give my sabbatical project shape and profoundly informed and deepened my future reading, writing, teaching, and faith.  Out of this project arose the Copia Lecture series. I think my longer piece about all of this is starting to take shape.

2. I absorbed online conversations with D. A. and Kathy and Susan-Louise and I thought about Kelly and what she wrote years ago in her essay growing out of Into the Wild and suddenly Richard II, on his knees in Pomfret Castle, was all over me, and I could hear Richard's meditation in his final soliloquy:

My brain I'll prove the female to my soul,
My soul the father; and these two beget
A generation of still-breeding thoughts,
And these same thoughts people this little world,
In humours like the people of this world,
For no thought is contented.

It was time to go to Senior Swim.  I waded into the welcoming warm waters of the Greenbelt pool and stretched and crunched and jumped and jogged and let my motion in the water soothe my haunted and stimulated mind and I eventually settled down and found a still place in my mind's churning thoughts and fears and regrets.

3. In the Still of the Night ends without a conclusion and so I did some exploring online to see if final resolution has been reached in the death of Ronda Reynolds since the book was published. The answer is no -- however, for Ron Reynolds and his sons no uncertainty exists. They insist Ronda took her own life. Suddenly, I was very grateful, on this cold Maryland night, that a bottle of brandy sits on our kitchen counter and I warmed my bones and settled my mind by drinking some brandy and hot water -- so simple, so calming.

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