When I pay attention, I'm often amazed how all the details in life fit together continuously in such complimentary ways. I don't really believe in coincidence anymore. I don't call it fate or divine intervention. I don't really call it anything. But I try to pay attention, because it sure feels like an affirmation of my direction when I see that the article I picked up yesterday compliments something else that came to me just now, be it some tidbit of knowledge, or a tool, or anything. "Life fills in," as my mom likes to say.
A few days ago, I started reading "Sandstone Spine; First Traverse of the Comb Ridge," a non-fiction account by David Roberts that was published in 2005. The book was given to me by a colleague in 2006 and it sat on a shelf until recently. I picked up the book almost at random, and I've been reading it in snatches, stopping in odd places. Yesterday was no exception, when I left off in the middle of a page to run errands in Glenwood with Mandi.
One of our errands included a stop at the book store to redeem a gift card. I considered several books, and specifically sought out some Hemingway titles that have been on my list for a while, but none of them jumped out at me the way a book does when the time is right for me to read it. I was holding "For Whom the Bell Tolls" when Jack Kerouac's "Dharma Bums" caught my eye in spite of its meager shelf display, where it was almost invisible. For a while I held the two books in my hands. I skimmed more pages in "Dharma Bums" but I still struggled to decide. My brain was set on "Hemingway" – an author and style I know and love – and my heart wanted Kerouac, an author who is more elusive to me (I've read "On the Road" twice, that's it). My gut won out and I brought "Dharma Bums" home.
The introduction by Ann Douglas about Kerouac's past was particularly intriguing to me. I was exhausted when we came home, but I was compelled to read the long, wordy intro between short naps on the futon as the sun faded from the window in my office. Before then, I'd never heard of, nor realized the significance of a beat poet named Gary Snyder, who was a great influence on Kerouac.
Hours later, I continued reading "Sandstone Spine." Lo and behold, two paragraphs from where I'd left off that morning, Roberts wrote how one of his companions on the expedition "quotes Gary Snyder by the yard."
So yet I see once again how all the details of life stitch themselves together when I let them! These are the moments my eyes open a little wider and I wonder what else I'm not seeing.
If you're still not sure what I'm talking about, here is another story I wrote last February about a more significant encounter.