Several weeks ago, I had the unexpected pleasure of being invited to sit in a comfortable chair in my publisher’s home for a couple hours. Aside from glancing out at the wintry scene through her upstairs window and being mesmerized by how quickly her small fingers sped over the keyboard of her computer, I was still.
When she apologized about ignoring me, my response was instant: “It’s OK, I never do this!” “This,” I quickly realized, was just “being,” instead of always dashing about doing one thing or another. During the course of this past year, which might well be one of the most remarkable of my life, I have embodied the name of a Canadian gas station: On The Run.
As I contemplated what drives most of us to race around at a frenzied pace in our lives, I remembered a wonderful conversation with one member of an Edmonton book club. What she said she loved most about reading Arriving was how it transported her back to her childhood when she had visited her grandparents on their farm in Norway, and how she now envied their tranquil and simplistic life.
Her reflections triggered my own memories of sun-filled days when my grandfather and I strolled through his wheat fields to determine their readiness for harvest. Although never a demonstrative man, this was the one time he reached for my hand. As we walked in silence, our bond of love was strengthened by a profound feeling of peace and connectedness with God and Mother Nature.
I often worry because, instead of bringing us together, technology and electronics are lessening our direct interaction with each other and heightening the complexity of our lives, as we work harder and longer in order to purchase the ever-increasing number of new toys. Now when people gather, they often talk or text on smartphones, or peer at or are zoned into a plethora of other gadgets intended to “enhance communication.”
I have long ago lost count of the number of individuals at a score of bookstores, markets, and craft fairs who have thanked me for engaging them in conversation. I believe each and every one of us likes to receive personal attention, to establish eye contact, and to feel connected with one another, especially during the holiday season. As each of you approaches the hustle and bustle of the yuletide, try to “be” with family and friends, and also set aside time to be with you.
Be calm, and you will know the real reason for the season. My best wishes to all for a Merry Christmas.