I am slowly working my way through the box of books I brought with me to the beach. I started with another Sandra Dallas book called The Quilt Walk, young adult fiction about a pioneer girl on the trail to Golden, Colorado in the 1850s. It was a delightful read. Then I read a fascinating book called The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffmann, about the group of survivors on top of Masada after Rome took Jerusalem in 70 A.D. It held me, every page. Next I read two books by Jeannette Walls: The Glass Castle and Half Broke Horses. Also both excellent–a memoir and the story of her grandmother. Walls is a masterful storyteller. Yesterday I read Annie Dillard’s The Writing Life, followed by a fun book I can’t wait to read to grandkids some day–The Willoughbys by Lois Lowry.
Now I’m in the middle of two more good ones– Women of Faith, vol. 1, edited by Rick Turley, and Resurrection, by Tucker Malarkey, which is loosely based on the mid 1940s discovery of the Gnostic Gospels at Nag Hammadi. It’s reading like a Dan Brown novel.
I set books aside all year long to bring to the beach. It’s like having bonus time to read anything I can’t get to at home. I love it. I settle into my beach chair, watch the kids playing in the big waves, and I’m perfectly content to stay dry in the warm sun with one good book after the next. But so far I’m only about half way through my box.
I read something yesterday by Annie Dillard about writing that struck me:
One of the few things I know about writing is this: spend it all, shoot it, play it, lose it, all, right away, every time. Do not hoard what seems good for a later place in the book, or for another book; give it, give it all, give it now. The impulse to save something good for a better place later is the signal to spend it now. Something more will arise for later, something better. These things fill from behind, from beneath, like well water. Similarly, the impulse to keep to yourself what you have learned is not only shameful, it is destructive. Anything you do not give freely and abundantly becomes lost to you. You open your safe and find ashes.
This is good advice for me. I tend to hoard things dear to me, to save them for later, to ration so I never run out. My July 9th post says this same thing in a different way. I am trying to be better at this. In the margin of my book I wrote “Also True With Fabric.” And it’s especially true with kind words and with love.
This morning we received word that the 53 year old father of two brothers Adam played city league basketball with died this morning while out jogging. One of these boys is getting married next week, and his sister will be married 2 weeks later. I wonder if this father spent it all, played it all, gave it all. I hope so. And I hope everyone around him felt it every day.
I hope that when I die I will have written my best words, used up my best fabric, and given the best I have to give. And I hope I still have plenty of time to learn to be better at that.