Friday, May 3, 2013


For years now my favorite book has been The Book of Qualities by J. Ruth Gendler.  The author takes personality qualities and assigns them human characteristics - if my high school grammar class serves me right, that is personification.  The pages always make me examine myself, and I love the little caricature sketches that accompany each description.

Also for many years now I have had three frames up on my wall and I've rotated copies of various pages from the book into the frames, dependent on where I am in life.  I've neglected them for a while now - haven't changed them in quite some time - and this morning while brushing my teeth I read them with a fresh eye.

Contentment has learned how to find out what she needs to know.  Last year she went on a major housecleaning spree. First, she stood on her head until all the extra facts fell out.  Then, she discarded about half her house.  Now, she knows where every thing comes from - who dyed the yarn dark green and who wove the rug and who built the loom, who made the willow chair, who planted the apricot trees.  She made the turqoise mugs herself with clay she found in the hills beyond her house.

When Contentment is sad, she takes a mud bath or goes to the mountains until her lungs are clear.  When she walks through an unfamiliar neighborhood, she always makes friends with the local cats.

Stillness will meet you for tea or a walk by the ocean.  You must be gentle when you approach her.  she is more sensitive than we can even imagine and she does not explain herself much.  Sometimes I bring her flowers - not because she needs them (she tends several gardens) -- but because I am better able to meet her when I am carrying flowers.  Her favorite time is dawn.

Courage has roots.  She sleeps on a futon on the floor and lives close to the ground.  Courage looks you straight in the eye.  She is not impressed with power trippers, and she knows first aid.  Courage is not afraid to weep, and she is not afraid to pray, even when she is not sure who she is praying to.  When Courage walks, it is clear that she has made the journey from loneliness to solitude.  The people who told me she is stern were not lying; they just forgot to mention that she is kind.

Many -- but not all by a far stretch - but many of the passages there are now strangely applicable to my life these days.  Hmmm. I think it's time to revisit the book and see what new ones might need to go in the frames  for the remainder of this year.  Let me find a cup of tea...

The frames won't survive the transition to the tiny house, but the book definitely will.  

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