It took Paul Harding several years and countless rejections before anyone would even publish Tinkers – and now he has a coveted Pulitzer Prize in Fiction for it. I fell in love with his fresh voice, characters and his ability to evoke great emotion with his honesty. I found myself frequently setting the book down, sighing deeply and masticating over the poetic language, pace, and simplicity of it. But he also made me wonder, “What am I passionate enough about, what do I believe in enough to never give up?”
So here I stand at the threshold of recapturing an intense passion in reading. Would I cross over and honor myself or let this new commitment fade like a New Year’s Resolution in March? The beauty of this novel made me sad that I’ve missed so much in recent years, but more importantly, it reinforced the drive to figure out what I really enjoy in life. And what the heck am I going to do for the rest of my life? I finally got the message that my previous career choice was serving me knuckle sandwiches. How do I get filet mignon instead?
Entering college sixteen years ago, I didn’t understand the freshman angst about choosing a major. I always knew I was going to be a horse trainer when I grew up. I earned a bachelor in animal science with an equine emphasis and business option and proceeded to bounce around from one less-than-ideal trainer to another. And when I burned out, I’d do a stint in a pet clinic, remodel apartments or manage a bakery. But I always returned to my first love of horses. Now I am the angst-filled freshman wondering what my unique gift to the world is. Horses will always be an important part of my life, but they are no longer my vocation – much to my surprising relief.
I find myself with so many questions so I return to my “research” where I discover reading as a form of meditation. Where my mind is free to wander and wonder, contemplate and concentrate on the words before me. And although I didn’t read Tinkers in any exotic locations, it sure took me to far off places in my being:
I found myself entering a cabin on a lake that had been put away for the winter. A layer of dust covered the sheets that lay over the furniture. Particles floating in the air caught the early morning light slanting through cobwebbed windows. A chill in the air made me instinctively hug myself and rub my arms for heat. The stuffy smell of abandon lingered. I stood at the window looking out over the lake and wondered when the inhabitants would return. It seemed as though years had gone by since anyone lived here. I wandered over to the bookshelf and pulled the sheet down in a cloud of curiosity. I picked a random book and opened it to the first page. My name was inscribed there as belonging to this book – or it to me. Was this MY breathtaking retreat on the lake? Dread seized me as I realized the neglect of my own soul – covered in cobwebs – musty – and waiting.