Awakening the Soul
One summer, in those liminal months between middle school and high school, I rode my bike to the library nearly every day and checked out books. I must have read close to a hundred books that summer, one after the other devoured sprawled on my bed, lounging on the back porch, lying beneath the swaying trees in the yard, hunching in the backseat of the car, in stolen moments at family gatherings and hours carved out of seemingly endless days. I read Earthsea that summer, rediscovered King Arthur with the Mists of Avalon, slipped back through the wardrobe of The Chronicles of Narnia, soared with the Dragonriders of Pern, hung out with Ender’s Game, and dipped my toe in the Shannara Chronicles. With every page turned, the curiosity: What would come next? With each new cover, the wonder: What would this book hold?
I’m not sure when that changed, when I was no longer easily swept away by that wonder and curiosity, when that impulse was overridden by a sense of responsibility and desire to “make it,” and when my cynicism overwhelmed that joy. How often had I pushed that part of me back? How often had I held onto my own self-righteousness instead of embracing imperfection? How often had I told myself no?
That joyful, wondrous, curious part of me still makes appearances every now and then, on vacations without carefully scheduled activities and in those few moments when I just pick up a book and don’t put it down until the final page has been turned. It’s not quite dead. Asleep—dormant—but not dead.
Every morning, I watch the buds growing on the low-hanging branches, each a pucker of what’s to come, a reminder of what had been. What beauty there is in dormant things as they begin to emerge into the sun, what surprise as their leaves unfurl and petals spring forth, what marvel.
What would happen if I allowed that slumbering part of me to awaken? A part of me fears it. I can’t imagine how my productivity would suffer, what others would think of my self-indulgence, the wasted time spent spinning through pages of useless fiction. The other part of me yearns for it. I think of the comfort of old library books and their laminated covers, the feeling of being carried away by a story’s current, the space provided by the non-reality to think things through, the feeling of wholeness and nourishment, the gentle vines entwined with the trellis outside of my childhood library. I don’t know what effect it would have on me, what effect it would have on those around me.
What parts of yourself have fallen dormant that you yearn for? What tender shoots could you permit to grow and spread from the soft loam instead of stifling with a new layer of mulch? What beauty and joy could you bring into the world?
on behalf of the Board of Trustees