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Thursday, March 21, 2019

Continuing Discoveries

Much like other readers, many of my nourishing conversations with people close to me have revolved around books. But over my lifetime I've had similarly enriching interactions - ignited by a love of the written word - with more than a few strangers. Is this an experience you and I share? If so, please tell me and others about it.

Flying to Chicago, I noticed a book in the seat pocket of the young woman seated to my left. When I glanced over as she retrieved it I couldn't catch the title but recognized the cover sticker indicating something either nominated for or the recipient of the National Book Award. When she later initiated a conversation, one of the first questions I asked was about her book. The next thing I knew we were landing.

All the tributaries of our energizing conversation began at the same source - Hold Still by Sally Mann - now on my "to read" list, despite my memoir moratorium. After all, fair is fair: My seatmate had captured The Namesake (Jhumpa Lahiri) on her phone notepad based on my recommendation. Our discussion of that excellent novel (and film) was itself connected to -  a) her interest in hearing more about my final destination - the White Privilege Conference in Cedar Rapids, Iowa and … b.) our mutual incredulity at the way many Americans insist on "re-naming" people with names they find too foreign or exotic and … c.) her own cultural journey.

Still buzzing, as my connecting flight awaited departure, out came my journal. As David Hare so memorably said "Writing is the act of self-discovery". The discoveries continue.


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