There’s been a sea change in my life. It started in the lockdown; you remember that time of madness when the politicians gave into public demand and we all had to stay home, destroying the economy and thousands of small businesses in the process. The politicians never believed in it, hence Barnard Castle, and ‘partygate’ and so forth, but the general public pretty much insisted we follow China and become very authoritarian. That’s all over now and we’re beginning to cotton onto the damage that was incurred, and how are we ever going to pay for it. Anyway, back to me.
I have a little more time on my hands these days. People write or call, and I’m glad they do, asking me about things to do with charities. Last week a draft governing document came in listing no less than ten charity objects. Good luck getting that one past the Charity Commission. Someone else wants help to overhaul the labyrinthine finance reports their trustees get every month. (Every month even!). I do what I can. And when I’m done and Millie is walked, coffee made, bills paid, and the dinner thought about, I read. Some of it appears in my in tray to help me know what’s going on in the world of charities. I read an article and think it rates a mention in my next newsletter, then I remember I don’t do a newsletter, though I can still contribute to what used to be my newsletter.
Then I read; sometimes for study, sometimes for sheer pleasure. I set out in my little coracle whether into a gentle sea or stormy I never quite know, but always full of unexpected delights and surprises. I found this letter penned by Anne Lamott, intended for readers younger than I but it was so captivating and winsome and, not having Anne’s way with words, I offer it to you.
I really want you to hear what I am going to say, because I think it is the truth. Okay? I’ll make it fast.
If you love to read, or learn to love reading, you will have an amazing life. Period. Life will always have hardships, pressure, and incredibly annoying people, but books will make it all worthwhile. In books, you will find your North Star, and you will find you, which is why you are here.
Books are paper ships, to all the worlds, to ancient Egypt, outer space, eternity, into the childhood of your favorite musician, and — the most precious stunning journey of all — into your own heart, your own family, your own history and future and body.
Out of these flat almost two-dimensional boxes of paper will spring mountains, lions, concerts, galaxies, heroes. You will meet people who have been all but destroyed, who have risen up and will bring you with them. Books and stories are medicine, plaster casts for broken lives and hearts, slings for weakened spirits. And in reading, you will laugh harder than you ever imagined laughing, and this will be magic, heaven, and salvation. I promise.
Love you, Anne Lamott
(Found in Maria Popover’s The Marginalian.)
Now, turn off the TV and read.