Tuesday, February 7, 2012

staggering genius

when i was in college my brother gave me books for my birthday. i always loved this because books are funny gifts -- deeply personal gifts disguised as ink and paper: they're long letters from the sender to the recipient, coded with all kinds of secret hidden messages, depending on which pages you read when you're tired or which ones you don't. or at least, that's how i give books, and what's more, that's exactly how i receive them.

so i think it was maybe right before or right after i studied in italy for a while: impressionable and eager and anything but capable of handling real life. (as an aside, i always think of the thing my dad used to say with a knowing smile, which is that "you're never smarter than the day you graduate high school." fill that in with any life event, and there i am.)  anyway. my brother gave me a book called "a heartbreaking work of staggering genius" by dave eggers.

i opened the book and i read six lines. and i cried:

first of all:
i am tired!
i am true of heart.

and also: 
you are tired! 
you are true of heart.

i read those words again, and again, and when i needed them, i'd open the book up and read them again. i thought about those lines for a long time. what they meant, what they meant to me, what they might mean if i ever said that to anyone else. what a declaration (with a colon!), and i thought that i had never realized how powerful punctuation, or just a few words, could be.


i guess that's the point, right now. i can tell you (declaratively!) am tired, and i am true of heart.  tonight, i'm reflecting on those words, on the time that i read them for the first time, on the gift of a book, and the reflection that happens when you read.

wishing you a quiet moment and a few good pages.

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