o I was having one of those bad days – it’s taking forever to get surgery scheduled to get my cancer out and, yes, it freaks me out no end. I’d woken up early with a 5am panic attack and was now using the internet to try to distract myself. And that’s when, a couple of later, a friend (won’t say who) called to gripe about something trivial.
Pretty much my involvement in the call was to say “yes” and “no” and “I agree”, just making noises so they thought I was alive. But I’m listening to life’s small little problems flood into my ear and thinking, “Shit, how trivial.”
I finally broke the connection about an hour later (sigh) when instantly a second call come though. This time it was a model train buddy who wanted to grind out sausage about something at the club. Like the first call, it was a windbag blowing of trivial little bullshit that, with my own fears (and, literally, diseases) gnawing at me, I wanted to scream “Silence, wretch!” (or words to that effect). Another hour of “yup… yup… yup”, trapped in an endless flow of slights and shortcomings.
By the time that was done, I wasn’t in the mood for anything – my thoughts were dark, I was angry and frustrated, I didn’t want to talk to anyone about anything. The wife had already gone out with her pals. And so I decided to walk the short distance to Juniors, my favorite local restaurant, and have breakfast. Alone. With a good book.
I’m currently reading a wonderful scifi trilogy, The Three Body Problem, by Liu Cixin, a truly gifted writer. I’ve really enjoyed the thoughts and insights Mr. Cixin introduces. So, with a plate of scrambled eggs, a cup of steaming coffee, and a good book before me, I could feel the tension of assholes slowly bleeding out. And THEN I read the following, a Chinese joke…
And there, in the restaurant, I actually physically laughed out loud, a deep laugh that blew out all the shit on my soul from those two whining twits. It was a perfect complement to my day. And man, I’ve old this story over a dozen times since reading it.
That’s where reading is amazing. Here was an inert object speaking to me, conveying a joke from a different culture thousands of miles away, that struck that human note that rang so true. It absolutely made my day.
Yes, YouTube videos might amuse you with cat videos, but books can speak truths.
And Mr. Cixin wasn’t begging me to like his page.