Monday, March 16, 2009


You may have noticed a small section on the right side of my blog entitled, "Now Reading." If you have noticed, you may have also noticed that it has said I'm now reading Travels with Charley since I started the blog (as in, 3 months ago). This morning I finished the last chapter. Why did it take me three months to read a 277-page book? Well, the picture above is my current stack of library books. Audrey and I have been making weekly trips to the library. I can't seem to leave the library empty-handed, regardless of the size of the borrowed stack I know I have waiting for me at home (did I mention that I also bought Travels with Charley from the library for $1?). I think I might have, ahem, a problem.

Despite my many distractions, Steinbeck's Travels with Charley was never put aside for long. The book recounts Steinbeck's expedition across America at the age of fifty-eight to rediscover the land about which he had spent the last twenty-five years writing. His companion on the journey is his French poodle, Charley.

The take-aways from this book are many. I could spend the week writing about the observations that struck me, or the ones that resemble my own from my few travels. But for now, I will mention one that resonates with me this week: the need for rest.

Well into his journey, after reaching New Mexico, Steinbeck writes:

"And I sat in the seat and faced what I had concealed from myself. I was driving myself, pounding out the miles because I was no longer hearing or seeing. I had passed my limit of taking in or, like a man who goes on stuffing in food after he is filled, I felt helpless to assimilate what was fed in through my eyes. Each hill looked like the one just passed. I have felt this way in the Prado in Madrid after looking at a hundred paintings -- the stuffed and helpless inability to see more.

This would be a time to find a sheltered place beside a steam to rest and refurbish."

I have been on whirlwind trips, the ones where you try to squeeze as much in as you can because you know you may never pass by that way again. Once home, I struggle to remember how I spent the days, the memories postcard blurs at best. Had I spent some time resting during those trips, perhaps I would have seen more (or seen less, but experienced more). But, I don't need to be traveling to experience the phenomenon mentioned above. A week of dashing into stores and cramming in too many events can cause me to see a little less than I would like. But often we forget to rest. The art of rest is a lost one. And sometimes, it takes a passage from Steinbeck to remind me of why it is so important. The rest isn't simply for the break, but to regain the ability to see.

This passage came during a busy week (last week). Jason was in San Diego all week for a meeting and Audrey and I had filled some of the days, perhaps a bit too full, to consume some of the hours while he was gone. Today, Audrey and I spent almost three hours at the playground, ignoring the piles of laundry and the grocery list. While there were many bursts of play, there were also quiet moments, sitting side-by-side on the swings listening to the wind find the last of the crunchy fall leaves and not pumping our legs.

Next, I think I will begin The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini (on loan from a friend). But first, some rest.

(Oh, and the bookmark in the picture? A gift from my talented friend, Christy).

No comments:

Post a Comment