if someone really knew me, they could gauge my mental state by the books on my bedside table. books are both my main source of new thoughts and ideas, and also the socially-acceptable stuffed animals i use to comfort and console myself with. when i'm engaged with living life, when i'm eager to learn and experience things, to encounter new feelings, i devour new books and will often have two or three piled up next to me, keeping me up for hours at night through excitement and wondering what will happen next. conversely, when i'm feeling down or overwhelmed by life, i reach instead for my comfort books - the ones i know inside and out, the ones that won't shock me or surprise me or trick me into feeling emotions i'm not ready to feel - no sneaky books here, no risky books here. just the kind where the words are so familiar they wash through your brain like soft music, the kind where the feelings are known, the aura is comfortable and the reassurance palatable.
"'Did I not tell you so?' said Don Quixote. 'Wait but a moment, Sancho; I will do it as quickly as you can say the credo.'
"Then, stripping off hastily his breeches, he remained in nothing but skin and shirt. Then, without more ado he cut a couple of capers and did two somersaults with his head down and his legs in the air, displaying such parts of his anatomy as drove Sancho to turn Rozinante's bridle to avoid seeing such a display. So, he rode away fully satisfied to swear that his master was mad."
but a short while later and it wasn't enough. it was too light. when times call for some deep introspection, guided meditations on life and what it all means, yet the reassuring kind that won't lead you into unforeseen territory where you might - accidentally! - think something new, there's nothing better than the brothers karamazov, the ultimate meditation on religion, love, life, passion, pride, and self-deceit. nothing works better to pull you out of your own life and submerse you into another world - another world both culturally and temporally.
and what then? the damn rains continued all through june and sometimes a great notion reappeared in front of me for my morning reads. it's usually my go-to book in november, when i'm ready to fall back into the wonderful coziness of the oregon winter; when i'm ready to fall back in love with the grey skies and the inevitability of several months of never-ending drizzle. when i'm ready to revel in the place i come from - when i'm ready to sink into the moss of kesey's words, like laying in the damp forest as a child, when i'm ready to wallow in troubles that seem to advance as surely and steadily as the steely clouds rolling in from the west.
but somehow, this week, things feel better. enough to put away the snuggly stuffed kitty cats and face the evening free to think new things, feel new things, see new things. read new things!
p.s. are you familiar with the feminist ryan gosling memes, and other such interwebs hilarity? well, in searching for images for this post i came across this site: Literary Ryan Gosling.
i think i'm in love.