Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Better days

MRS. MARTIN: Well, I'm sure you'll say that I'm making it up--he was down on one knee and he was bent over. He was tying his shoe lace which had come undone.
MR. SMITH: If someone else had told me this, I'd not believe it.
MR. MARTIN: Why not? One sees things even more extraordinary every day, when one walks around. For instance, today in the Underground I myself saw a man, quietly sitting on a seat, reading his newspaper.
MRS. SMITH: What a character!
MR. SMITH: Perhaps it was the same man!
--Eugene Ionesco, The Bald Soprano

My university’s library has several “quiet” study areas, and these are my usual haunts, little islands safe from people yakking on cell phones and making plans for the weekend. Today, though, I just have a few minutes to kill, so I’m hanging out in the large open atrium area, home to numerous big comfy chairs as well as long tables with computer terminals. Across the room, I can see a young man rocking as he uses the computer. Not rocking lightly, but very noticeably. I check to see if he is using headphones, maybe listening to some music while he works. No, he is just rocking, and once in a while he raises his hand up high in the air, where it “freezes” for a few seconds. He is just doing his work, living his life. There are about twenty people I can see from where I am sitting. They are not staring or whispering, just minding their own business. Thirty minutes later, I get up; it is time for class. No one appears to have seen anything out of the ordinary. I am amazed. For the rest of the day, well into the next day, I marvel at what didn’t happen, as if it were a miracle I’d witnessed.


  1. Having just come from the nauseating praise for Wakefield page, it is comforting to read about instances of simply getting on with life, rather than desperation to blame and cure. Thank you Bev.

  2. There may yet be hope. Of course this was a university library, right?



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