I just ordered two paperback titles, quickly and with as little logical impedance as possible. I am now a thru-hiker, and post-trail we are a nearly destitute breed. I do remember reading a quote of H.P. Lovecraft years ago, in which he argued the validity of eating less to afford books. I console myself with such eccentrics.
The first purchase was Bernard Moitessier’s Vagabond des mers du sud or rather the English version; Sailing on the Reefs. I heard about this man through the documentary Hold Fast. Mentally I’ve bookmarked him as someone I need to know more about.
Similarly, I made the second purchase based on a single quote from Rainer Maria Rilke. It’s one I’ve incorporated into a previous blog post.
“For one human being to love another; that is perhaps the most difficult of all our tasks, the ultimate, the last test and proof, the work for which all other work is but preparation.” –Rainer Maria Rilke
His words resonated to a very deep chord within myself, which sounded after a failed relationship. A romance, which seriously damaged my desire for future interconnectedness at all. It was this quote which reminded me of the truth that such bonds are the yoke of human existence.
Why books over web searches? Why longer works over succinct secondhand articles? Intimacy of conversation.
Books are the most direct line we often have from one mind to another. Especially when the author is no longer inhabiting a human body. Beyond the depths of the first few chapters, which are often bulwarks set to filter out the unworthy, we find the speaker’s true message. A transmission passed only to those willing to weather dozens of preparatory passages.
To believe that audiobooks suffice in place of visual reading is delusional. There is an additional layer of mastery offered to those who set aside the time and attention required of pages, be they physical or digital.
This was proven to me recently by re-listening to my Audible library while hiking. There were gaps in information, which simply wouldn’t have occurred after reading a hardcopy. Instead of memories filled with the authors words, I recalled images of driving my work truck. Still, audiobooks are better than nothing.
I finished the trail on the 29th. A bear caused me to spend my final night in a fire tower. There will be more explanation of my final days in North Carolina to come. Yes, also the last miles in Maine too. As I write this, I am in a foreign place in the middle of the night. I am here to address the increasingly less foreign reality, of hospitalization in my mother’s life.
I am grasping at what peace the woods provided, while it is still upon me. Life wasted no time in testing my new mile-hewn resolve. It chose to ambush me before I could even make it home.
The reality is that what strength I’ve gained in the past five months, time has manifested equally in frailty on the part of my mother. The change is shocking.
Love is the most difficult task indeed. As if failed romances could ever even compare with the sorrow of watching a parent’s physical form fail. To watch it alter so cruelly that it changes even the perception of who she is. I’m at a loss.
Thankfully, both of my sisters are here. Having had exposure to this months ahead of me, they’re in a clearer mental space about it. After writing this, maybe I am too. For now, rest.