Dear Peter Turchi,

When we got to Pasadena, I was tired of the pop music and the trivia and the traffic and declared I was going out walking and wound up at the public library at 5:25, closing at 6, I browsed the new nonfiction and from all those spines lining the antique shelves, your name emerged, and I pulled your book and had a seat and read all I could, relieved to find this delightful reprieve from the thicket of the family vacation, attempts to be loving and kind foiled by old habits even in these new places that are no longer ever truly new, the landscape abloom with Macys and Chevrons and Targets and Godivas and Nissans and Disneys and Goodyears and 7Elevens, (etcetera).

Sheltered at the library, 6pm came too soon, and I reluctantly returned your book to the fine and thin librarian and asked where was the closest bookstore, and she directed me to Vroman's on Colorado Street, and I walked there, happy, but arrived a bit dizzy and dry and hungry with the lingering remnant of last week's flu, a headache (or a new illness?).  I looked for your book but the store was huge, so I asked and the man searched on his spiffy computer and led me through the crowded store to the writing section, and there it was, I apologize, on the bottom shelf.  I grabbed it and wandered upstairs where there was a room full of chairs and greeting cards and one book perched at eye level, a bird on the cover, waiting for me, poems and drawings by Leonard Cohen written, some, while staying at a Zen monastery.  I've heard a few songs, know his name, and had no intention of buying another book, but how strangely books present themselves, like magic!  It was obvious that I must buy it.

[I knew your name, by the way (and so recognized it on the library shelf) because some years back someone on the radio was talking, you? I can't remember now, about Maps of the Imagination, so I ordered it and read enough of it to love it thoroughly before getting distracted by some other. Recently, I came back to it, plucked from my shelf of books "most significant", I thank you.]

And another strange thing:  On the way to the bookstore I passed a movie theatre and studying the offerings was astonished to see a documentary about the Sagrada Familia!, astonished because just that day, on our drive from San Diego, caught in traffic, we heard a radio program about Gaudi and his magnificent church.  The movie started at 7:40 and I knew I had to have dinner first, deciding on that light cafe full of salad a block back.  It was getting close to 7.  But while making my way to the register I paused in the world religions section and there (again on the bottom shelf) were several copies of the Tao Teh Ching which I have been wanting to read.  So I bought that too.

Now, tonight, back home in my own bed, a bit sleepless with jet lag, three new books stacked beside me, my head still aching, this mystery emerging, why these three books?, why that movie?  Perhaps it is silly to make something out of mere coincidence(?), but it feels wildly more significant, if only because everything is connected, the attraction of primes and opposites and flocks of similar kinds.  Have you ever considered the puzzle that is you and Leonard Cohen, Gaudi and Lao Tzu?

1 comment:

  1. What a beautiful post. Your book finds are no accident but, as you say, wildly more significant. I found my first Tao teh Ching at the Tattered Cover in Denver, when I was hunting for the book "Time and the Art of Living." It, too, was on the bottom shelf, and when I bent over to pluck it, my butt hit the book standing on the table behind me. It was Stephen Mitchell's translation of the Tao. I've read both of those books at least seven times. And listened to Leonard Cohen's songs thousands of times, and did not finish Peter Turchi's first book either. You'll have to let us know how you like it.