On my recent return from a trip to Colorado, I packed a paperback copy of Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. It’s been two months since I started reading for pure pleasure for the first time since around the age of 12. That’s when the required reading lists for school overtook my reading for enjoyment, and I never sought to set things right until my daughter gave me the novel Big Stone Gap in August.
Since then, I’ve read all four books in that series, plus The Language of Flowers (which was engaging, beautiful, and painful all at the same time). All of them have been genuine printed books (remember those?), which means that I hold the volume in my hand and turn the pages, rather than maneuvering thru electronic touch. Someday I may become interested in an E-reader, but for now I liken that to ingesting coconut cream pie via a digital photograph rather than savoring authentic flavors and textures in my mouth.
As I look around the cabin of the airplane, nearly everyone that isn’t sleeping is E-reading, or playing games or watching movies on their own personal hand-held devices. A few of us are luddites: me, the young woman across the aisle, who is holding a book called Angels are Real, and the gentlemen one row up and across, who is involved in a large hardback volume titled Master and Commander (subtitled FDR at War, 1941-1942).
I recognized this gentleman in the waiting area before we boarded because he is a hometown boy who went on to do bigger and better things, always returning to his roots. Around Monterey County, he’s known simply as “Leon,” but the rest of the world knows him as Mr. Panetta, Clinton’s Chief of Staff, and Obama’s former head of CIA and Secretary of Defense. Leon was dressed for success, true to the image of a high powered individual: crisp white dress shirt, classy suit, perfect neck tie that was left in place throughout the trip, an authoritative but approachable presence… and a book in hand that was appropriate for his persona. A quick face reading scan disclosed a nose that announces power, and strong purpose lines that verify he is living his destiny. A brief analysis of his birthdate revealed someone who is a strong, dependable mountain, with energetic influences that cause him to be a commanding leader who rules with grace, charm, and confidence.
Like Leon, my reading choice was a perfect fit for my identity: someone who is exploring both the pleasures of the world and the pleasures of the spirit… and the fine art of creating balance between the two.