progress is good for the soul

Last week a friend lent me Life of Pi. I’ve been excited to get started on it, so I pushed myself to finish reading Eyes of the Dragon. It sounds silly, but completing that made me feel really good. I was struggling and putting off finishing the book for some time. My normal habit would be to read many books at the same time, but I had a feeling that if I put it down, I wouldn’t come back.

I’ve also been working on some drawings, tracked down a good eraser so that I can get back to those drawings, and have started to think of painting that needs to be done around the house. Things are getting done, which gives me a sense of sanity, and this week I should be free to go on some hikes around the area since there won’t be any construction folks in the house. I may even try to get into Boston later in the week, but that will depend more on finances than desire.

Today was full of intrigue and strangeness, and in a strange sense, validation where I never expected it. We had visitors not long after lunch. My great uncle and a few other older more distant relatives came over for a chat. I don’t think I’ve seen the two women since I was ten or so, and everyone has aged a bit since then. On the street I wouldn’t recognize them, and they probably wouldn’t recognize me. We had a nice chat, mom chirped about the happenings around the house while preparing a big dinner, and they asked me a bit about my time in China. These are the first people I’ve talked to that I’m related to that seemed to intuit that I liked it there. They didn’t assume that it was a tough place to live or that it must automatically be so much better to be in the US.

That was a sigh of relief to me because it meant I was not on the defensive. I felt like I could step out of the “educator” role and just have a nice conversation.

A surprise visit was one thing. While they were still visiting, my father came home from work and gave me a book. This is not an everyday occurrence, in fact, I don’t remember my father ever giving me a book unless it was something I picked out myself. My father doesn’t read books very often because he doesn’t really like fiction, and he wants to be able to complete his reading in one sitting. This isn’t to say that he doesn’t read. The man reads three newspapers a day, and learned English reading the newspaper. His knowledge of what has gone on in the world during his lifetime is fascinating, and given a different childhood path, I expect he’d like being a historian rather than an auto body shop owner.

Once, back when I was a St. Mary’s student, I had finished reading Les Miserables as one of my special assignments for Sr. Rita. I loved the story, and I was excited about it. My mother wasn’t home that night, so I ran off and told my father all about the book and how great it was and what an insight it was into the time with the added bonus of suspense and intrigue with the manhunt. I was as articulate as a giddy 13-year-old can be, but he got the idea. That night he started reading the book. When my mother came home, expecting him to be in bed, he was still reading the book. The man who never misses getting out of bed at 6:30AM to get ready and leave for work at 7:30 was still reading the book when I left for school at 8:30. Sometime during the day he finished the book and went to work, already dead tired. After school my mother asked if anything had happened, because he wouldn’t talk to her.

I vowed I would never recommend anything that took longer than 3 hours to my father ever again, because it took him the better part of 3 days to recover from that sleepless night. My father doesn’t read books because he has to finish them in one sitting.

Given this history, and given that my father has never given me a book, I was shocked that he gave me a book to read today. On top of that, it seems a rather odd selection: Many Lives, Many Masters. Amazon seems to plug the sub-title, but I can’t find that anywhere on the book itself. As mentioned, my father is not a fan of fiction, and not a fan of the supernatural, so his excitement over this book perplexes me a little. I’ll have to read it just because… I want to get it. my dad is not into anything beyond the realm of what it right in front of him. So, in a way, I feel like maybe that’s a little progress with my father.

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