Someone just reminded me of this all-to-oft quoted phrase, "whatever the problem, love is the answer". I'm sure it nears a high level of statistics for top sound bite or meme for when shit-hits-the-fan situation involving most anything at this time in our lives. I should do a collocation search on this theory... Hmmm
When I think back to past summers, the past few years I've had a book or two I was reading that can be associated with that summer. Take last summer for example. As I was preparing to leave Bahrain I picked up a copy of Shantaram from the BSPCA thrift shop (Bahrain SPCA). First this is incredible because to buy books written in English in the Middle East (as well as Turkey or anywhere else in the region) is super expensive and also because it had been a title I've been wanting to read for quite a few years. Winning. Usually when thrifting, you (I) always buy books but they are not necessarily titles that were 'on or near the top of my wish list'. I did buy a lot of books at that shop, but Shantaram stands out.
I believe it took me most of the summer to finish the novel, but it I was thrown back into the mix immediately upon returning to my last known read paragraph. India was on my radar because there were so many south Indians that lived in Bahrain so I was always exposed to foods, culture and other things Indian. I had perhaps my most inspiring yoga teacher ever in Bahrain. I had the best and cheapest Indian food of my life in Bahrain. And I had so many pleasant encounters with Indians from all around their Subcontinent that it surely has endeared me to India and its people forever. It has in fact moved high up in position on my bucket list from my experiences in Bahrain.
There is also an India that I think of when I think about my time growing up and growing wise on Maui. Many of my friends had traveled there or was soon to. Friends of mine were of Indian descent as well. Whenever I think to these times on Maui, I think of how good it was living there and the spiritual enlightenment we were all going through and processing living there. I think about Mana Foods (health food store in Paia) and how lucky we were to be able to shop there (and find a coveted parking spot as well). I think about yoga classes on Maui. I think to all the times that I was living a pretty pure life with all these gifts I mention that, along with the natural beauty of Maui, created this elixir of life that is unbeatable- so far as I can tell from living in various places before and since Hawaii. Not that India was a daily awareness of mine there, but i always felt some sense of wondering if my way of life on Maui was in any way similar to friends' experiences traveling there.
I guess I mean to say that I've always thought about India, and more recently Sri Lanka, as a place that could possibly have some sort of duplicity for my life as experienced on Maui; quality food, yoga, beach, warm weather, cheap fruit! At various times on Maui I'd be out with friends and someone would invariably be currently reading Shantaram. I think you are beginning to get the idea; India had some sort of pecking order in my life- regardless if I knew/know it or not. I'm not sure if I even understand what I've written in the past few paragraphs, but forage ahead I must...
Shantaram; it was nothing of the India that I have envisioned throughout my life, but I always knew existed. While reading, I was on various continents and in various countries. I morphed along as the book was progressing; morphing in its own way independently yet contemporaneously. There were parallels it felt. I sensed a deep connection with the books characters and interactions. I don't care to get literal here and delve into the story-line, etc. You can look that up at your leisure. I simply want to describe the interaction I had with this book and how it relates to last summer for me, for no particular reason. There is no end point to this story here. I suppose only to say that it was somehow akin to a milestone in my life that perhaps I wasn't even aware of.
I think fondly back to that book; those pages dog-eared to death (mostly because it took me months to finish it). I think about all the various things I used as a book marker as well and all the notes I took while reading that meant something in that moment. I also think back to the social media moments I experienced through posting about that book. I heard from quite a few people who I haven't heard from in a long time and only keep in contact with through Facebook. Some people commented about it I haven't even met yet, whose friendship only extends through cyber-space. All these 'achievements' I write about is what I think about when thinking about Shantaram and last summer!
This summer my 'book' was "Birds Without Wings" by Louis de Bernières. I started this book in Kas on the Turkish Mediterranean when I was backpacking and camping in the spring. I bought it at this bookstore I remember from my previous sojourn to Kas. You all that know me know that I almost always buy a book when traveling and many times it is about the history about the area, etc. My time spent reading that book consisted of beaches, boats, buses, airplanes, camping on beaches, hanging out at my campsite, etc. That book covered Turkey and Greece in Turkey and Greece. I feel connected to the soil of each place in reading that book- especially considering the sensitivities of the book's contents.
Annotations and anecdotes litter the pages now. Solo_ojo, whom received the book afterwards, likely is currently sifting his way through the book story-line, and my story-line on the sidelines. I immediately knew that he would be receiving this book afterwards so I started my story to him through the margins. I think about the trajectory, the lifeline of that book and where it will travel to; whose hands will turn the dog-eared pages, what countries or coffee shops or hostels or beaches will become a part of THAT book- all this, it stimulates me for some reason that I can't really describe. I'm not sure why. I'm not sure I need to.
I thought that book would be THE summer book, but it's over, and I've moved on. I didn't think I would. I remember thinking while reading how affected I was; how the book moved me; how I kept turning pages devouring the words with my eyes. I was so devoted to that book...
Now the seeds has been planted. A new book is rising from my cyber-social media spaces. There has been enough chatter about Ulysses from the oracle known as my Facebook page that I am compelled to search out (a free or cheap copy...). Could it be due to "Brexit"? I don't think so. Could it be a result of my time in Greece recently and the association with Odysseus (more association than one there folks)? I don't think so.
Speaking of Odysseus... it was he who reminded me of that oft-quoted phrase, "whatever the problem, love is the answer". He told me this morning in fact, when I needed to hear it the most. Anyone who knows of current news inside Turkey will know the context of my cryptic message here...
Sometimes I forget love is the answer. Sometimes, after some time you think you know some things and can comment on these things you go ahead and do so. Sometimes, though, it is not your place to do so- or with such authority. So one backs away and retracts to the comfort of one's den, as a predatory animal does when needing seclusion and in need of concealment.
If you need me, I'm in my den pondering what does it all mean... Do I love books? Am I in love with the place I go to when reading books?