Looking for a distraction, I brought the speed of the machine down so that I could jump off. I did. And went to the corner where all the old books are kept. Doha is a transient place. People come and go. When they leave, this corner of the compound club house gets a new supply of books and magazines; stuff people don't want to carry back with them. Spanish, French, English, Dutch and Arabic books and magazines pile up haphazardly on a rickety book case.
It was the colour of the cover that caught my eye. It was a shade of my favourite, turquoise. I tugged at it and pulled the spine out and read the title. The blurb promised a good read.
Three days later, when I turned the last page, I was tempted to start all over. But, the laundry pile was growing higher and we'd eaten eggs and toast for two dinners in a row. It was time to step out of the happy fog I'd buried myself in and face the real world.
The book was:
- the shapes on my bed the sun draws with his rays when I pull the curtains back every morning. The sky is always blue here (or at least for eleven out of twelve months).
- the neighbour's cat curled up in the big garden pot by our entrance door; the cool soil keeping his ginger fur from getting too hot and his furry red tail twitching to its own beat.
- etc. etc. you get the idea, right?
'the gift on an ordinary day' sits on my bedside table. I still can't figure out how anyone could've parted with this gem. Their loss--my gain, I guess.
Last April, I wrote To Katrina Kenison to thank her. If I'd asked her permission, I would've shared her reply here. But, I didn't plan this post ahead of time, so I didn't. All I can say is that she wrote a beautiful reply and added this at the end:
"We are all just walking each other home." ~ Ram Dass
I'm taking the liberty to quote William Martin (I discovered him via Katrina's book, too) here.
He writes in The Parent's Tao Te Ching:
Make the Ordinary Come Alive
Do not ask your children
to strive for extraordinary lives.
Help them instead to find the wonder
and marvel of an ordinary life.
Show them the joy of tasting
tomatoes, apples and pears.
Show them how to cry
when pets and people die
Show them the infinite pleasure
in the touch of a hand.
And make the ordinary come alive for them.
The extraordinary will take care of itself.
I became that child and showed myself the way. How could I show this beauty to my children if I wasn't able to see it myself? I was getting a bit lost in the glitter of expat life, you see. Designer bags and size zero waists were eroding my confidence. That was four years ago. That was before Katrina's words blasted the ordinary into my life and turned it sunny side up.
I can never tire of thanking her for writing this book,
the person who left their copy for me to find on that rickety old bookshelf in the corner of the club house.
THANK YOU BOTH.