#521: Share Something… Here

August 26th, 2015

I don’t like it when people set out to create something beautiful. It reeks false to me, calculating and deliberate like a business card that says “Poet.”

So I didn’t expect much of the book tucked in the back of the twee coffeehouse gallery with the twee wall decorations, twee staff, tweely named arthouse sandwiches and overhead music that sounds like it should be playing in the elevator of a modern design collective in Brussels.

It was a light green bound notebook tucked amid the thumbed-over comics and abandoned paperbacks stuck in a corner for those who ambled into the shop with nothing to read.

“SHARE SOMETHING — thoughts, doodle, haiku, ideas, song, philosophy… HERE.” the notebook’s cover read.

I believe in beauty, but this was clearly a book set out to create it. Beauty springs out at you, jumps from behind a bush and says, “Here I am, sucker!” It takes by surprise. It can’t be forced or coaxed into the world.

Amid a shelf that included a Chuck Palahniuk novel, a French-English dictionary and an old Dover trade of ancient Egyptian poetry, the notebook seemed no more than an interesting diversion I cracked into after I finished the comics.

It started deliberately, a call for the patrons to share their thoughts in the shop’s first year. The first crop of pages followed suit, thanks and dates and little notes about wonderful times had, like the registry at a boutique hotel.

Then, some oddness creeped in. Doodles started happening. A map. A cat. A Kermit the Frog puppeteering a smaller Kermit the Frog rendered in perfect two-point perspective.

Soon the messages started widening their scope beyond exclamation-point-laden heaps of praise upon the coffee.

“I love him & now it is ok to admit it. Waited a long time: Long story. <3 <3 (He loves me back.)”

“My candle burns at both ends.
It will not last the night.
But ah, my foes, and oh my friends
It gives a lovely light.
Edna St. Vincent Millay”

“Hi, MY NAME JEFF”

I paged through the book, reading the notes, eying the art, laughing out loud at a running dialogue between the coffeehouse staff and a cartoon cat that kept challenging the staff to draw increasingly elaborate fish-based foodstuffs in its cartoon food bowl.

I turned to two pages of scribbled cursive that wrote every N as upper case and forgot to take the E out of judgmental.

“My sponsor asked me to write on the difference between religion and spirituality, but I am going to skip religion because I don’t want to sound judgemental.

“To me, spirituality is about connectedness and awareness that I am a part of something bigger in the world. It is almost like being plugged into the wave or the current – I visualize it as a moving illuminated slow moving wave – that, when I am doing my part of staying sober and abstinent and behaving with kindness and love and integrity towards other people – I am being a part of the current and I am not in control, I don’t have to fight it or struggle – everything happens how it is supposed to happen as long as I do the next right thing. Sometimes I still want to contrive the circumstances but that only creates fear and anxiety.

“I just found out that I have a pancreatic tumor, so I am going to see an oncologist tomorrow – and I am not worried.

“I am trusting that whatever is supposed to happen – will happen. I feel grateful for my sobriety and all the other gifts I have in my life right now, and for the love of people close to me.”

I don’t like it when people set out to create something beautiful. It reeks false to me, calculating and deliberate like a business card that says “Poet.”

But when something beautiful, human and true springs out at you, jumps from behind a bush and says, “Here I am, sucker!” I can’t deny that they succeeded.

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