Lily is quite the stickler for properly situating a bookmark before we cease our reading each evening. If I forget this step and dare leave the book unmarked, she chastises me sternly.
Rightfully so, she wants to cover new ground when we settle in the following night. There isn't time in her young life, I suppose, for backtracking.
Sooner or later, she's going to start cracking open my books and I'm afraid they're going to drive her crazy, as I fold down the corner of any and every page that contains a paragraph of interest, an eye-catching photo or even just a single stunning sentence. For me, these marks aren't intended to denote stopping points from which to begin again, but, rather, as places to which I'd like to return and linger.
Having put Lil to bed the other evening after receiving yet another scolding (I'm forgetful, you see), I revisited my own shelves and pulled down a few random books to see what I'd find. Pressed leaves tumbled off of or clung courageously to many pages, revealing another obsession for which I'll likely have to explain myself once the girls start greater exploration into my library. A couple of stray feathers hid there too and I resolved to make certain that Lily and Piper both got a peek at these artifacts before they are damaged or lost entirely.
On some pages I couldn't determine exactly what it was that had led to the original folding of the corner, but even this was a warm reminder of why revisiting beloved books with the always changing perspective of "real" life brings rekindled appreciation and new revelations.
I'd read From Here to Eternity by James Jones years and years ago, so long ago, in fact, I was somewhat surprised to find that I'd done anything more than store pretty leaves within its pages. I do not remember much about the book, sadly, but a 20-something me had found reason to call out a specific passage that has taken on new meaning with the tests of ultra running. The following words were especially timely from the vantage point of my experiences at this past weekend's Febapple Frozen 50, a 50-mile race that I was blessed to complete despite the fact that more than half of the starters failed to finish due to treacherous footing and hypothermia-inducing weather conditions:
“He knew how to handle pain. You had to lie down with pain, not draw back away from it. You let yourself sort of move around the outside edge of pain like with cold water until you finally got up your nerve to take yourself in hand. Then you took a deep breath and dove in and let yourself sink down it clear to the bottom. And after you had been down inside pain a while you found that like with cold water it was not nearly as cold as you had thought it was when your muscles were cringing themselves away from the outside edge of it as you moved around it trying to get up your nerve. He knew pain.”
My interests all prove wedded in the end. The music that speaks to me, the words that move me, the movement that sings to me all overlap and intertwine until I can't distinguish one from the other. And I adore that.
I think little of graves or tombstones. Infrequently do I ponder how I'd like to be remembered. But, should my family decide it imperative that a marker be erected in my memory upon my slipping from this earth, I think I could live (ha!) with
"He knew how to handle pain."
Better yet, save the real estate and whatever materials were to be used for the marker and fold a corner or two in my honor when something strikes you as worthy of a return visit.