Every five years, I reread my favorite book. Part of it is to make sure that it’s still my favorite book. But more importantly, it’s to see how much I’ve changed and how much I haven’t changed. Nothing tells us more about ourselves than the artifacts in our life that move us. Music, stories, art, and where we find beauty is very telling of where we’re at in any given moment.
I reread Still Life with Woodpecker by Tom Robbins in my usual rapture and fell in love with the story once again. In some odd and mysterious way, this story captures an aspect of life wisdom that agrees with the core of who I am. To sum it up in my own words would not do the book justice. And it would just be ludicrous to boil down the books awesomeness to a catch phrase.
But here is a passage that captures some of its goodness:
How can one person be more real than any other? Well, some people do hide and others seek. Maybe those who are in hiding–escaping encounters, avoiding surprises, protecting their property, ignoring their fantasies, restricting their feelings, sitting out the Pan pipe hootchy-kootch of experience–maybe those people, people who won’t talk to rednecks, or if they’re afraid to get their shoes muddy or their noses wet, afraid to eat what they crave, afraid to drink Mexican water, afraid to bet a long shot to win, afraid to hitchhike, jaywalk, honky-tonk, cogitate, osculate, levitate, rock it, bop it, sock it, or bark at the moon, maybe such people are simply inauthentic, and maybe the jackleg humanist who says differently is due to have his tongue fried on the hot slabs of Liar’s Hell. Some folks hide, and some folks seek, and seeking, when it’s mindless, neurotic, desperate, or pusillanimous can be a form of hiding. But there are folks who want to know and aren’t afraid to look and won’t turn tail should they find it–and if they never do, they’ll have a good time anyway because nothing, neither the terrible truth nor the absence of it, is going to cheat them out of one honest breath of earth’s sweet gas.
Be an outlaw. Live and love without dogma. And you will be golden.