used books, used looks

02/23/2024 0 By BuddyCushman

I’ve had a fun thought this morning. Rather than reading a book I just received from Ebay, I will only read the brief reviews on the back cover and inside page. That will give me everything. For example, I paid four or six dollars – the most I’ll spend – for a used copy of “Writing for Your Life” by Deena Metzger. Here are two of those reviews: “‘Writing for Your Life’ invites us step-by-step into the inner territory of our own creativity. Deena Metzger, a cartographer par excellence, provides a road map to the countries of the soul.” – Diane Di Prima. And, “This welcome companion to our personal journey applies Metzger’s skill – or magic – at helping us to see, and in seeing, to speak.” – Joanna Macy.

How is that not more than enough, and especially with so many invitations of joyful connection with the day lining up within the brevity of an unfolding Friday?

Which (I’m giggling) isn’t the point of today’s post here in ‘couchsurfing’. The point waving its hand to me is, rather, the ‘used-ness’ of a used book. A Zen Koan says, “Each being’s eternal radiance appears before us.” I can see that radiance holding a used book. Seeing with my hands. And, the same day the Metzger book, which I no longer have to read, arrived at the doorstep, another five dollar book tagged along as well – “A Flower Does Not Talk”, Zenkei Shibayama its author. And this copy is so used, literally softened and made ragged by the hands of a previous reader, perhaps previous readers, I can actually feel all the love it holds – that’s soaked in, become one with. Talk about a gift.

And there’s more. I especially dig it when a used book comes with an inscription, generally on the title page. Like – “To Jennifer, Christmas ’79. May this year sprinkle wonder and joy through your life every day. Love, Mom and Dad.” Or, “Peter, this is so you. I cannot imagine the world without you in it. Enjoy. Cousin Kate.” For me, such treasures are like being invited into someone’s Thanksgiving dinner, one more connection with fellow humans on this planet.

So Friday says.