I asked her if she had ever read "Gilead" by Marilynne Robinison. What brought it to mind was that Robinson wrote a sequel to Gilead, which occurred at the same time and place as the original novel, but from the perspective of one of the minor characters that appeared in the original. I found it both brilliant and distressing, as I had developed a fairly strong connection to the main character in the original novel, and he is slightly diminished in the sequel.
Here is something else about Gilead. I was reading it back in early 2006, when I had no clue what I wanted to do with my life. My heart had been broken by the death of my wife at the end of 2004, and, very unexpectedly, once again by someone else at the end of 2005. I was drifting and not at all sure that things were going to be ok.
I was sitting in a hotel room in LA one morning, down to visit family, and I was reading the book.The main character in the book observed that you never really know what is going to happen in your life. That the most random and insignificant encounter can turn out to be something life-changing.
Later that morning I was driving up the 405 freeway, and I had an epiphany--maybe something wonderful is going to happen. I don't know where it came from, but all of a sudden it was in my head. Maybe something wonderful is going to happen. I stopped in at a Starbucks, and ran into my niece and bought her a coffee. That was kind of wonderful, but I knew it wasn't it. I love the "maybe"--no guarantees, but maybe...
Two days later I went up to Santa Monica to a recruitment presentation for Doctors Without Borders. I documented the day in my old journal, and here is a link: Myasma, June 6, 2006
After the presentation I talked for a while with the nursing recruiter. She suggested that I get out of my comfort zone and visit some developing countries. This was the seed for my first trip to Southeast Asia.
Expecting that something wonderful might be around any corner is really a life-changing perspective. It opens up unlimited possibilities. The thing that it did for me was to give me a sense of hope and anticipation.
As I was thinking about all this, I realized that all these memories are starting to blend together, and I am losing the clear timeline that I once had of this time in my life. I guess that is why I am writing about it, so I don't lose it.
The Feast of Pentecost, June 4, 2006: Maybe something wonderful is going to happen"