729. Known books as travel companions

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I've been reading M Train by Patti Smith. One of the things that has jumped out at me is her practice of choosing from among books she's already read those that she will bring along when she travels. We don't see her choosing from books on her reading list, or the best sellers pages, or an online book site. Not that she's not also reading books new to her, but when journeying, she pulls out from shelves and storage boxes those that she knows will be companions for the specific journey ahead.

Which books might you think of as travel companions?


[Photo: taken of curtains at the Bachman's Ideas House this past spring.]

Trains and travel

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I recently rode a train somewhere, instead of driving, instead of flying. The train in the picture above is not the one I took but the train on the track outside my window. This picture doesn't do it justice but what a beauty it was. I love traveling by train because you have hours and hours to read,  look out the window, walk around, sit in the observation car, sleep, think, dream. No worries about weather or traffic. You have time to switch gears before you arrive at your destination, time to leave busyness behind; you have time to switch gears again before you arrive back home, back at work. I think I've posted this quote from Anne Morrow Lindbergh on this blog years ago but stepping on to a train pulls it up from my memory yet again.

“It is strange, but the minute I got on the train and left I felt utterly different. I think one’s feelings and thoughts, the real true deep ones, are better focused when you get away because they are detached from their stale associations: one’s desk and room and bed and mirror. They become clear and just themselves, the way colors of a sunset or a birch grove seen upside down become clearer, because the colors are disassociated from their familiar forms. Do you see what I mean?”

–Anne Morrow Lindbergh, from Hour of Gold, Hour of Lead

Waiting on the World

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Over Thanksgiving we traveled to New York City, which was a great joy but also a continual exercise in patience: waiting for airport security lines, waiting for planes to board and deplane, waiting for crowds to move, waiting for buses and subway trains, for restaurant tables, for Stop lights and Don't Walk signs. 

When packing for the trip and without a thought to the need for patience that such a trip would envitably exact, I had thrown in my backpack the unopened book Patience: How We Wait Upon the World by David Baily Harned. Reading a few pages in my hotel room each night, I barely made a start at the book but got far enough to appreciate Harned's contrast between patience as a civic virtue and patience as a spiritual virtue. 

Pilot: There's another plane parked at our gate, so it will be a few minutes until we can deplane. We appreciate your patience.

Harned writes, "Perhaps impatience is not the original human sin--though some would argue that it is--but there has been consistent agreement within the Christian tradition that impatience does not signify merely the absence of a single virtue but the erosion of them all." Quoting William Lynch, Harned suggests that "the decision to wait is one of the great human acts."