A Luminous Halo

"Life is not a series of gig lamps symmetrically arranged; life is a luminous halo, a semi-transparent envelope surrounding us from the beginning of consciousness to the end." --Virginia Woolf

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Location: Springfield, Massachusetts, United States

Smith ’69, Purdue ’75. Anarchist; agnostic. Writer. Steward of the Pascal Emory house, an 1871 Second-Empire Victorian; of Sylvie, a 1974 Mercedes-Benz 450SL; and of Taz, a purebred Cockador who sets the standard for her breed. Happy enough for the present in Massachusetts, but always looking East.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Renaissance Souls

Renaissance SoulsFriday night I went to Food for Thought Books in Amherst to hear Margaret Lobenstine discuss and read from her new book, The Renaissance Soul. I had only heard about it a day before, from daughter Cordelia, who had been in the bookstore and had seen a notice about it. A "Renaissance soul" as M.L. defines it is someone who's interested in a million things and hates to choose. So Cordelia naturally thought of me.

M.L. argues that these people are swans in a world full of ducks, frequently misunderstood as "unable to settle down." If they don't find a niche where they can use many talents at once, they frequently end up going from low-paying job to job, never climbing up the ladder of success.

That struck me as very insightful, for a few hours anyhow. I was underwhelmed by the actual event at the bookstore--Food for Thought is a very literary, cool place, and this book doesn't go really deep. Most of the people there seemed to know the author already, and were supportive to the point of being nauseating. It was a positive hug-fest. And the author was really blatant about pushing her themed merchandise, which was a turn-off. Cordelia's friend Nadine was there, and she seemed extremely bored. In fact both of them, as it turned out, had the same reaction I did, but Nadine, being young and brilliant and less inclined than Cordelia or I to be nice, just tuned the whole business out.

The food was pretty good--Godiva truffles and Terra chips and Cabernet Sauvignon and so on and on--and I did buy a book anyhow. I give M.L. credit for having the balls and the persistence to write the book and get it published. And I think it's important to support writers, especially local ones. Also nice to have signed first editions of just about any book.

It bothered me that, being a life coach and supposedly so sensitive to people, she didn't even ask me my name and inscribe it to me personally. By the time I got to her, she was just sitting there, not in a hurry or seeming worn out from signing stuff. She had that phony-friendly demeanor of a realtor or a cheerleader, which always makes me nervous and a little suspicious. But that's just me. I groove to people that have a bit of an edge.

So now, in addition to the million things already on my list, I have one more: read The Renaissance Soul.

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