If you ranked the order by count, it might be books and art but that’s a close call.
Since I was 5 my dad made me read for 30 minutes every night.
He never, not even once, made an exception to this rule. I asked him why and he said he believed it was necessary to widen my mind so I could take in more of the world.
His rule became my standard and those 30 minutes turned into a lifetime practice.
My kid and I read together now all the time. A bookstore and a rainstorm top our list of favorite things.
We rarely read the same books— the result of an 8-year epic fight ( from two seriously pig-headed people ) about who should pick the next one… but with our time together under one roof winding up, we’ve made peace and are now drunk on the same chapters, the same passages… our conversations and attention narrows to the words that blow our minds.
…“what page you on?”
…”where you at”
…”Oh my god”
…”don’t tell me yet”
We have a television; I’ve turned it on a few times but I still fumble and eventually have to ask her how. It’s a sideline, not a headline in our home.
I can’t imagine anything better than sharing this with her because words change everything, often making any struggles from yesterday or even this morning unrecognizable. For us, they cement the deepest beautiful memories and tie us to each other unlike anything else we’ve found.
The words are just like the art, in fact they are art… and as my dad said, they widen everything, creating this space for us to love, live and give even more:
“..Almost everyone is obsessed with leaving a mark upon the world. Bequeathing a legacy. Outlasting death. We all want to be remembered. I do, too. That’s what bothers me most, is being another unremembered casualty in the ancient and inglorious war against disease.
I want to leave a mark.
The marks humans leave are too often scars. You build a hideous minimall or start a coup or try to become a rock star and you think, “they’ll remember me now”, but (a) they don’t remember you, and (b) all you leave behind are more scars.
Your coup becomes a dictatorship. Your minimall becomes a lesion.
We are all like a bunch of dogs squirting on fire hydrants. We poison the groundwater with our toxic piss, marking everything MINE in a ridiculous attempt to survive our deaths. I can’t stop pissing on fire hydrants. I know it’s silly and useless—epically useless in my current state—but I am an animal like any other.
Hazel is different. She walks lightly. She walks lightly upon the earth. Hazel knows the truth: We’re as likely to hurt the universe as we are to help it, and we’re not likely to do either.
People will say it’s sad that she leaves a lesser scar, that fewer remember her, that she was loved deeply but not widely. But it’s not sad. It’s triumphant. It’s heroic. Isn’t that the real heroism? Like the doctors say: first, do no harm.
The real heroes anyway aren’t the people doing things; the real hero’s are the people noticing things, paying attention. The guy who invented the smallpox vaccine didn’t actually invent anything. He just noticed that people with cowpox didn’t get smallpox.
I snuck in to ICU to see her. I just held her hand and tried to imagine the world without us and for about one second I was a good enough person to hope she died so she would never know that I was dying too. But then I wanted more time so we could fall in love. I got my wish, I suppose. I left my scar.
A nurse guy came in and told me I had to leave. I asked if she was doing ok, he said “she’s still taking on water”. A desert blessing, an ocean curse.
She is so beautiful. You don’t get tired of looking at her. You never worry if she is smarter than you: You know she is. She is funny without ever being mean. I love her. I am so lucky to love her. You don’t get to choose if you get hurt in this world. But you do have some say in who hurts you. I like my choices. I hope she likes hers.”