Okay, I cheated. I went to Island Breath and found this: “When man interferes with the Tao, the sky becomes depleted, the equilibrium crumbles creatures become extinct.” Lao Tzu. A voice from the past but so appropriate today. I posted it and received a response from a very scholarly fellow in the discussion group and was on my way.

I hadn’t opened the book for years, not since 1985, the year my husband died, but I went directly to the site.  I don’t think the book had been dusted or moved since 1985. Talk about dusting a book off with a shovel. It’s a mess. Books need lots of tender loving care to survive a tropical climate and my books are not treated nearly as well as my animals. Anyway, I opened it and the center fell out. I picked it up and reinserted it. Further, and please don’t tell anyone, discovered it was a library book I’d ‘forgotten’ to return. The last date was June 10, 1985.

The very first words that came to mind was-excuse my while I sniff and wipe away a tear…

“The little toy dog was covered with dust but sturdy and staunch he stands

“The little toy soldier is covered with rust with his musket still in his hand.”

That’s a big stretch but you can see how my mind works and I don’t read a book, I fight with it. If this book had been a dog, it would have bitten me. If it had been a soldier he’d have shot me down.  I wrote in the margins. I turned down the pages. I underlined.  I argued.  I raged.  I throw the damn thing across the room when it wouldn’t talk back and sulked. When I’d cooled off and  picked it up again I’d lost the page. That was twenty-six years ago. Today I take it to bed with me. Is that an up or or is that a down?

The introduction  was written by Lin Yutang, another guy I hadn’t thought about in years. The first notes in the margin was on page 15  in response to, and I quote , “The thought has been constantly on my mind to find a religion that is acceptable to a scientist.” I underlined this. In the margin I drew a * and wrote  THE FORCE in caps. Remember I was twenty-six years younger, Star Wars was fresh in my imagination and my juvenile mind was still very impressionable.

I had a fight with Lin on page 17 when he said “intuitive knowledge and mathematical knowledge never meet.” I drew an arrow and noted in the margin, black ink, “Yeah? Well Einstein relied on intuition.” Lin ignored my sass.

On page 18 we made up. He said, “Only one who can imagine the formless in the formed can arrive at the truth.” I made a sweeping gesture of agreement and replied, “I find this reasonable.”

I finished the introduction and threw Lin, baby, out of bed and cuddled up with Lao.  It’s raining today. I’m going back to bed with Lao and sending you home. Come back tomorrow and see how this guys fares. Course you can leave a note on the table. I don’t know whether I’m moving ahead, backward or sideways. I wonder what Lao would think if he were here.

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