Yesterday, at the end of my workday, I wasn't ready to go home yet. I had been meaning to go to Barnes and Noble and browse around, so that's where I headed. I miss the independent bookstores that have closed one by one. And one day, I imagine, we will only have the option of buying books online.
Once inside the bookstore, I took a look at the new books; many I have seen at online review sites or heard mention of. I wasn't feeling especially pulled by any. I wandered over to where the notecards, notebooks, and art supplies are kept, just past the business section and the bargain books. I skipped the business section and went to the bargain shelves and tables. I saw a visual book that teaches you how to learn the keys of the piano. I thumbed through it, slightly wishing that I knew how to read music, to understand and enter music at its language gate.
I saw another book on introversion that caught my fancy. There was a Baudelaire quote inside that I saw when I flipped through the pages–it spoke to me. I took a photo of the book, so that I can see if the library has a copy. My favorite place to get books these days is the library and second hand stores. I have a stack checked out right now and recently took back a few stacks. They come home with me, and of course, they don't all get my attention, but they are what I'm interested in at that moment that I bring them home; some hold my attention all the way until the end, while others serve as inspiration in the small spurts of time I'm able to give them. It seems the library books are the ones that get read all the way through; my own books stay in their shelves or stacks looking back at me, patient, waiting for me to pull them out. They have a home, and I would say it's permanent, but that would be a lie–nothing is permanent–an ancient truism, one that I try to remember.
While I was down in this section, my eyes were drawn to the "Buddha Board Mini" sitting on the shelf. I picked it up and saw that it was a small drawing board. You use only the brush, the board, and water to create your image and then poof, it disappears after some time. It actually evaporates. On the box it says: "Master the art of letting go." Another reinforcement of the impermanence of life. I kept turning it in my hands, wanting to buy it; instead, I made a note. Maybe later.
Part of me only wanted to browse. I wanted to refrain from buying anything; and I always feel guilty when I buy new books and "stuff".
I looked at my watch. I had just a little more time to browse before I should leave, pick up dinner, and head home.
Upstairs, there was more new fiction and the rest of the fiction. I browsed. I was starting to feel like I wasn't going to find anything that I wanted. I don't know if I was looking for something in particular or just trying to relax, allowing my mind to lose itself. I don't know what I was expecting. Was I expecting something? I wasn't feeling energized. I was beginning to feel tired. I was only in the B's. I saw a book that I jotted down for later, then I went to see if there were any astrology books I might not have. There were only a handful, nothing new or interesting to feed whatever mood led me around the store, as if searching for something, yet not searching for anything at all. Since I was in the spirituality section, I quickly scanned the other titles. I saw the Four Agreements, which I have stowed away in a box somewhere. I might have to dig it up. Then I saw a book of meditations by Don Miguel Ruiz's son. I noted the book in my notebook.
I made my way back toward the escalator, but stopped quickly at a shelf with a reference book that stood out to me for its size and title. Noted.
Down I went, back on the main floor I was about to exit, when I went over to where I thought the writing section was. I didn't see it; instead, I was standing in front of the self-help section. I did a wide scan with my eyes, not really feeling in the mood for a self-help book. My eyes were drawn to a book that was facing forward, like someone had pulled it from the shelf and not put it back, leaving it there to be seen. I looked away, continued scanning, then I looked back and picked up the book. The cover was black, a photo of two small red flowers at the bottom right corner growing out toward wet stones. I felt calm looking at that cover. "Wabi sabi" written in white lettering somewhat in the middle of the page. The words were familiar in an unfamiliar way. Where have I heard or seen those words before, or have I?
The full title: Wabi sabi: Timeless Wisdom for a Stress-Free Life. I flip this beautiful book open, read the inside flaps, and learn about the author. I'm intrigued. In reading her forward and looking through the book, it seems this is her meditation on her experience and practice with the concept of Wabi sabi, a Japanese concept.
While I was flipping through the book, I landed on a quote by Robert Frost at the top of page 31: "In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life: It goes on." I smiled, my internal voice agreeing, 'yes, that's right. So simple, and yet...'
As silly as it may sound, I think the quote sealed it for me. It made me take that book and keep flipping through it and re-reading the table of contents–my curiosity, the beauty of the book itself, and my love of wisdom...it was the book that found me that day.