Talking about it needs to be more than a library program

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It’s a bit of a damp day out the window. Autumn oranges and yellows mix with the steady evergreens. A mountain jay swoops between feeders.

I can hear the low rumble of a snow blower beneath me in the garage where my husband’s repairing it for someone. The wind-up timer — a relic from my mother’s kitchen — is ticking down the minutes for a chicken casserole baking in the oven. Gregorian chants — the sound of fall for me — flows like a river of “sweet melancholy” through the room. My thoughts drift to our daughter in Minnesota, on crutches and in pain with a torn meniscus, awaiting knee surgery.

This is my world at the moment. In North Idaho. In North America.

In the “Let’s Talk About It” program — five fall meetings at our local library — we are discussing novels and memoirs set in other parts of the world. We’ve journeyed to a remote mountain village in China. To the colorfully unpredictable in South America. Currently to a struggling sheep station in Australia. The next book will transport us to India.

These worlds, these daily lives, are startlingly different from each other, and from my own. But each one makes me feel less alone in my humanity. I’ve met these people head on — even if just on a page — and I learn they are trying to find their gritty way through life like I am.

It makes me think if we would be more honest about our worlds — the “good, bad, and ugly” — it could be what brings us together. I have a relative who grew up hearing, “Don’t make a scene. Don’t make a scene.” Well, that’s what our lives are. Scenes. One after another. With varying degrees of drama.

My scene today happens to be one of contentment, with concern for our daughter’s knee injury mixed in. But I could write other scenes. Ones that encompass the good, the bad, and the ugly.

There might be somebody who’d read them and sigh with relief. Say, “I’m not alone. Someone else has done this, thought this, felt this.” And how I work it out might be their answer, too — just as something I learn from another’s candor becomes the very thing that helps me.

Maybe “Let’s Talk About It” belongs in more places than the library.

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