Tuesday, August 4, 2009

This post got totally out of control.

Now what am I doing, you ask? More reading. More, more, more.
I have to admit, I haven't always been a big reader. I've gone in spurts. There was a time when I was little, around 9 or 10 or so, that I read a lot. It was a really rainy winter and the Bookmobile came to my neighborhood. What a cool thing that was. I don't know if you've ever been witness to a Bookmobile, but it's just a big ol' bus turned into a travelling library! And the one in my neighborhood parked maybe three blocks away. So my mom let me walk to it. What an adventure...a walk in the rain, a big responsibility, freedom...and a few new books to boot. I remember one particular memory of coming home, flopping on the couch, and getting lost in the story. It was a good thing when the Bookmobile came around.
Well, when I was 10 my family moved to a small town for my dad's job. And there was no Bookmobile. And then reading got linked with school...I had to read what they told me to read. So, being a bit of a rebel, I decided that reading was boring. And that's how it went for years. I would read now and then...mostly Stephen King because my friend would loan them to me. Or a few romance novels now and again, because another friend loaned them to me. But it wasn't very often that the book got read to the last page. I was bored. And I could never seem to find author's that spoke to me and kept my interest.
Fast forward to about 10 years ago...and Oprah's Book Club. There was a time when Oprah spoke and I listened. Not anymore...I have to make that very clear. Oprah has changed over the years...and I don't agree with the direction she's going. But...I'm not here to talk about Oprah. Anyway, the book club was good for me. But I didn't read with the club...I waited to hear what the book was about during their discussion THEN I read it if it sounded interesting. And during that time, I read quite a bit. White Oleander, Stones from the River, The Book of Ruth, The Rapture of Canaan...very good books. I also read Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistlestop Cafe by Fannie Flagg...and it has become one of my all-time favorites. Then a few years ago a friend of mine I met through an online art group recommended a book by Anne Lamott, Traveling Mercies. Wow. I was blown away. And I had finally found the voice of an author that I could relate to. Anne Lamott spoke in a way that I thought, "You know, I could sit and have coffee with this woman."
That was about 5 years ago...maybe 7...and my interest in reading was forever piqued. But, again, I had a hard time finding author's I could relate to. I read everything I could find by Fannie Flagg...and everything by Anne Lamott...but once I was done with all of them, I was stuck again. Keep in mind, too, I was of the mind that I had to BUY all of the books I read. The library wasn't an option. Not that I was against the library....I just never thought to GO there. So of course budget was a consideration.
Well, a couple of years ago I decided to take a plunge into the blog world. And boy am I glad that I did. I found so many interesting people. with interesting things to say, and valuable information to share. I would read and read and read...blogs. Not books. At the same time, there was this book that kept catching my eye at Sam's Club...Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. Every time I'd go to Sam's I'd have to take the book route. I'd look for cookbooks, mostly. As I really wasn't much of a reader. But I did like to cook...and eat! But one day...months after I'd first seen this curious book (with a beautiful cover, I might add)...I finally decided to buy it. And life hasn't been the same since.
Reading A,V, M changed how I saw the world..how I saw food...how I saw my life and my self. I know it sounds dramatic...but it's true.
Knowing that I had to make changes I began searching the internet for information. Simple living...sustainable lifestyle...preserving food...organic gardening...you name it, I searched it. And inevitably I'd stumble across a blog that would tell me what I wanted to know. And, as you know, once you visit one blog, you just have to click over to another blog...and so on, and so on, and so on...holy cow! This whole new world opened up to me! A world of recycling, which I was already doing pretty seriously, but I learned even MORE ways to do it. A world of reusing, thrifting, which I'd also always done, simplifying, buying less instead of more, being content with what I have, reading food labels, making it myself, the list goes on and on. And for a while, I was information overload! I wanted to do it ALL. But, I knew that wasn't realistic. So I started with what I knew...gardening. And I introduced one new thing this year...chickens. And next year, I'll add one more new thing....not sure what it is, yet. But ALL of this to say...I can't get enough reading material! I'm constantly reading...blogs, books and magazines (from the library of course...and if I love it and it contains valuable information that I need to know regularly for the lifestyle I'm heading toward, then I buy it.), newsletters, articles...
...hmmm, that's interesting. As I'm writing this post something is being brought to my mind. In the midst of ALL of this, I think it was July of 2007, I had decided to read my bible from cover to cover. I opened it up at Genesis, and read and read and read until I got to the very last word in Revelation. I think it took me about 7 or 8 months. I read the bible, and nothing else.
And what I found was...well, I found several things...the bible is relevant, it's interesting, it's dramatic, it's full of adventure and how-to articles. The bible is THE life handbook...and it gives the perfect picture of how life is one big circle. How everything that God created goes together. And nowhere in there does it mention grocery stores or high-fructose corn syrup or partially hydrogenated vegetable oil. It talks of hard work and pure food and trials and triumphs. It talks of life.
So if I'm being honest, the bible is what really opened it all up to me. It sparked the interest of reading...of planting...of preserving...of simplifying...of reducing, reusing and recycling. The year that I was reading the bible I went to our women's retreat. Our speaker passed out bible verses rolled up like tiny little scrolls. We each went up (80 of us) and grabbed our scrolls out of the basket and took them back to our seats. I was so excited to see what mine said.
Wasn't I surprised to find 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12...Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.
Um, huh? Excuse me? Me? Be quiet? Mind my own business? Um...yeah...I definitely got the wrong scripture. Definitely. I tucked it in my bible and forgot about it.
About 6 months later it all began to make sense. I was reading books and blogs and Mother Earth News. Chris had put a copy of it in my stocking and that was the end of that. We are now subscribers! One day I'm sitting out on the deck reading my bible and that scripture on that little scroll slips out of my bible. And suddenly it all makes sense. A quiet life meaning quiet in it's impact. Minding my own business and working with my hands meaning gardening and preserving and doing instead of buying. All of this will then help me to be less dependent on anybody. Ahhhh, OK, now I get it.
I finally begin to see it, a common theme. I see that everything I read, everything crossing my path is leading to the same thing...simplifying. Quieting things down. Doing things myself. Being less dependent on "the man"...(I say this in jest but there is a bit of truth to it.)
Well, wow. Are you still here? I have to say, this is not what I had in mind when I began this post. I was originally going to talk about my latest interest, natural remedies. I sure veered away from that now didn't I?! But isn't it interesting...how one thing leads to another and another? And next thing you know, life is different. And you are different. And there's hope. Life is crazy sometimes...and such an adventure. I'm glad that I am actually learning how to participate in it...


Anonymous said...

yes, I am still with you! I am right here with you in so many ways. I have not always been on this path. I was on the path of serious discontentment acquiring way too much stuff yet never feeling satisfied. This path is so much better. I love that verse too. It tells me just to go about my business not worrying about what others think of me. We are different than the women that go shopping on weekends vs. cleaning the chicken coop and preserving food. I like me. Oh, and I like you too ; )

Louisiana Laura said...

As the sista's say at the Walmart down my street, 'Gullfriend'- I am with you. You had me at ...'Oprah, not anymore...' reading is intoxicating with out the hangover. Unless you count the thinking about the book the 'good hangover'. I mentioned in my recent blog titled 'waiting for the paint to dry- literally' I read Barbara Kingsolver's novel 'Prodigal Summer' and found myself dreaming about these people. She is on the money in so many ways. I loved, loved, loved AVM. I am in a state of mourning over my city garden that didn't take. I am feeling the urge to drive to Tennessee, where my mother's neighbor has a garden to DIE for. Where I can walk through and pluck huge, ginormous tomatoes and eat them till my hearts content. I digress. Anyway, I couldn't read this post fast enough. I'll read it again and then post my own tribute to reading, bookmobiles, and books.
You are so right on about the Bible. It is an amazing book, power to transform & power to engage in ways we never thought, if we'll just read it.
Best from the deep,humid south- wishing I was feeling a N. CA breeze.

Lisa Gallup said...

I love Anne Lamont....I'm reading "Traveling Mercies" right now! She is so "real". I also looooooved the bookmobile! For two years we lived in a tiny mountain town in New Mexico, and the Bookmobile came every other week. Good memories!

Kelly said...

Have any of youread Animal Dreams? The first B.K. book I read, and probably still my favorite, though Prodigal Summer is a close second.

What IS with the Oprah cult anyway?

I read a book called 'Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons' by Lorna Landvik. I cried when I was done with it- as in I so upset it was over and I couldn't read more. It is about a group of women who form a book club and it chronicles their lives over forty years. OK, I am done raving now, but it really was a thought provoking read.

Anonymous said...

Traveling Mercies remains to this day one of my favorite books ever and I now bestow traveling mercies whenever a loved one leaves.

A.V.M- yes, same thing for me.

as a weird side note of bookmobile memories, I lost my first tooth on the bookmobile, it came to the farm across the street from my grandparents which is across the street from where I live right now, boy, wish it still did!

and I agree with you on Oprah...just saying.

Beegirl said...

1 Thessalonians 4:11-12...Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.

I can't thank you enough for this.

Nancy said...

Girl, great post. Love your stories about the bookmobile. I grew up in a small town, about 1000 people with a tiny little library but it was my favorite place to go. I was a regular after school for years. I always had my nose in a book and I'd prefer it to be that way but sometimes I have to take care of my responsibilities.

Have you read anything else by Kingsolver? Just last night I finished The Bean Trees; I recommend it. I read AVM last year on vacation and wanted to read something else by her that wasn't non-fiction. I want to read Poisonwood Bible too.

Last week I read The Midwife by Jennifer Worth. So good. Her memoir about being a midwife in the 50's in England. I thought it had a spiritual element to it as well.

Love that scripture verse. I'm going to go mark it in my Bible right now. There's a lot of food there for thought....food which I need.

Kimberly said...

:) A fellow traveler on the same path here...