Two books found me. One took me back in time with black-and-white images of a city during a decade I often think about. The other informed me of “what might have been” by showing me in text and color images of what eventually became reality for a river. Both books, separately and together, are about Maine.
“O! the joy.” — Who hasn’t seen the ocean for the first time and not had a similar sentiment swell from within? Not many of us. Our feelings are personal yet remain a shared experience because of our primordial connection to water. The comforting salve the ocean provides to us in sight and sound causes emotions to bloom —be it a smile or a tear— revealing our joy and wonder when in company with the ocean.
I think democracy is like an old coat. Over time it becomes worn and frayed; stiches pull, but do not break. It is washed from time to time; gets beat up, thrown down, held up against the sun as we wrangle it across our shoulders. We button it to the very top — keeping out the dark cold, keeping us warm with our thoughts, keeping our empathy for one another safe within — away from the threats looking to intercede. It is a whole made of pieces.
Your childhood memories are important. Write them down and share them with the family, especially children and grandchildren. Let that wonder float free like those lightening bugs we would patiently wait for on a warm summer’s evening. The sun sinking low, coolness settling in, and then a pop of light in the distance, then another, until it’s as if flashbulbs are going off at a birthday party. Surrounded now, their light seals our contagious smiles and wonder within a cocoon of memory to which — we have the key.
We all have known people that touched our life, if but for a moment, helping us become who we are today. And there are others we never had the chance to know. Yet, they too, silently, were there and are part of that big book we carry around today.
Though normal feels so far away right now, the distance between us today will bring us back together and make those handshakes and hugs feel that much more gratifying tomorrow. It will feel like sunlight on the face after a long, dark night.
In his debut novel, Talk Radio, author Ham Martin brings a daily radio program — station prompts, quirky commercials, theme music and all — to life. Even those annoying glitches are included for realism. Of course, the “talk” portions of the program are the real gems. Presented along a storyline that is both unique and unpredictable — just like radio can be — this book was a pure joy to read.
Between these bookends of exceptional stories are more exceptional stories. All are connected, yet separately strong, unique and remindful of who we may be or people we may know as a friend, neighbor, confused teenager or loving husband, father or grandfather.
The gift of a necklace from a mother to her daughter, words from a father to his daughter about the rings of a tree — both offer the same lesson: We live making our story by remembering those that came before us giving us theirs.
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