He bought it in 1946 for six pounds, which apparently was quite the sum back in the day. He’s 92 and wonderful, my darling neighbour, Joe, I’ll call him. The gigantic relic of a dictionary was his. Now it belongs to me.
Joe and I lounged in his well kept living room and sipped champagne to celebrate my family’s one year anniversary of owning our home. He had remembered, not us. We were flawed with gratitude and awe.
As we sat, he told me stories of his life; the pains, the joys, stories of beautiful friends and loved ones here and gone. I could have sat there all afternoon. Instead I settled for an hour and a champagne, and two home-made yoyo biscuits (made by a dear friend of his, and absolutely delicious, might I add.)
The dictionary came up in conversation and I mentioned how I’d planned to buy a special one myself, some day. Brooke, the writer; of course she’d need to invest in something so truly lovely, full of all that writerly goodness. And just like that, the dictionary, the precious illustrated dictionary, had become apart of our family.
I will cherish it for as long as I live. Not because it’s the dictionary I’ve always wanted, but because it will remind me of a beautiful soul that has touched my life deeply.
As I sat with him I told him, ‘Joe. You have such a pure soul,’ and it’s true. I’ve never felt a person quite like him and I wish there were more people in the world who felt as beautiful, to me.
The purest of hearts. The ones that lift us to be our best. The ones we all hope we might be for others.
I plan to go for tea again with him soon, my darling friend, Joe.
The horrible beautiful: it is the ache our soul knows and understands as our connected truth.
What could be beautiful about war, you might ask? I ask the same question myself, every single day. It is beyond painful what is occurring in the world at this time, and so many of us would do just about anything to take the pain away from our beautiful Ukrainian friends.
Ah. You saw it there, didn’t you. The beautiful part? You saw it right there in the love.
And that is what I mean about war, how it’s both beautiful and horrible at the same time. War opens hearts by breaking them. It shows us just how important we are to each other, and it shows us just how deep our human connection goes. We grow more beautiful as a collective in times of pain.
I know few would ever ever choose war.
I would never ever choose war.
But I absolutely choose the togetherness. The signs I’ve seen all over the world declaring:
I always thought I’d become a hermit. I saw myself in the bush somewhere, surrounded by breaking sticks and bark for miles and I was home there. No one to argue with. No one to feel too much of.
I’m not far off what I thought I’d be, I realised the other day.
I have only a few good friends.
I enjoy only the shortest get togethers before I search for the nearest exit. I like it this way. A little bit of a lot, is better than a lot of a little bit, to me.
Not that I don’t like people, quite the opposite. People can be miraculous when they allow themselves to be. When they even know the miraculous is available to them…and that’s where the hermit thing comes in. Not many people around here know about miraculous humanity.
And so I’m not a hermit, not really.
But then, I am in a way.
I always will be, but for the few I choose carefully.