Sunday, January 8, 2012
A Happy Book
And so we are off. The boys are back at school and I am home again in the quite with only the rustle and woofing of the dogs to disturb me.
I received an email, the subject line of which was "Be Well in 2012" and I originally thought the sender was "The Universe." Ominous, once opened it turned out to be from The University of Kansas. Nice, but less profound.
I could use a little profundity as I have had a few projects come to an end and rather than feeling relieved, I feel adrift. Two volunteer projects sit on my desk like bags of snakes. They twist and curl, slither and hiss just here at my left elbow; I keep thinking I have their sacks firmly tied, but they make me anxious just the same.
And, our new year feels more like mourning than morning. Over the holidays we were seeped in death, dipped again and again and again. It did not diminish the joy of the carols, but often made them seem a little too loud.
As joyous as the season is, and as much as it touts beginnings, it is the end of things as well.
To shake off the snakes and escape the gloom of my musings, I set out to see the world. A great find came, as great finds often do, on a dusty shelf in a thrift shop. It was waiting there for me, without its wrap (and not needing one as our weather has been fine), knowing that I would find it and its meaning in good time.
Ludwig Bemelmans's The Best of Times is a compilation of his articles for Holiday magazine recounting his travels through Europe following World War II. Mr. Bemelmans took his title from Dickens, and, indeed, it is not always a rosy view. But to me it said, "Go. Don't wait. You never know."
All images by Ludwig Bemelmans from The Best of Times, Simon and Schuster, 1948. The title is taken from the introduction. "I set out to write a happy book. The mood was somber, then as it is now, but I disagreed with the opinion that was screamed at us from the radio and the front pages..."