I just checked the publication date on one of my dearest, dearest volumes: Wild Mind by Natalie Goldberg. 1990. Yup. That makes sense.
I found Natalie in a little independent bookshop (remember those?) in Flagstaff, Arizona, when I went with my husband on a business trip around our first anniversary. He went to meet with clients and I took a walk and found the bookstore, found the book, went back to the room and took a long hot bath while reading and lost myself completely.
Here was a book about writing, about spirit, about attending to details, about love, about Buddhism, about … everything I didn’t yet know I was or would one day be emphatically infatuated with.
The book is, quite frankly, a mess. I remember when my grandmother died when my oldest daughter was 2 and I took with me to the memorial service the blanket that my grandmother had made for her when I was pregnant. Well, I took what was left of the blanket with me. As my tribute to my grandmother, I held it up and showed those assembled the tattered pieces of flannel that had once been sewn back-to-back, but now clung to each other by one, double-stitched seam. But held-together, it was. I don’t remember what I said, but I remembered I cried and so did others, but it was something about how love endures, in the rags of things that give us comfort. No, it couldn’t have been anything that profound. If it had been after the movie “Oh Brother, Where Art Thou” I’d have told people that the blanket had been “loved up.”
When I pick up my copy of Wild Mind, I’m reminded of that blanket. It is all loved up. The spine is cracked and peeling and there are little sticky notes and scraps of Orders of Service stuck in all over the place–at least a dozen places marked for permanent reference. Hemingway quotes are underlined; whole chapters are dog-eared together so I know to read them all.
I thought of this book today because there is a chapter/writing exercise on “Home” that I often go back to–a reminder that we carry ‘home’ with us, in many ways, and that ‘home’ isn’t just the walls that surround us.
These days this is good for me to remember.