Feasting on Friendship and Philosophy Pie
Out of the million reasons I have to be grateful, I’m focusing on a blog written by Andrew Kaufman titled “This is How Homemade Wisdom for Troubled Times Can Help Us Now.” It’s his review of my book Leaving 1203, and I’m flush with gratitude on two counts.
First, Andy took the time to write a thoughtful, personal, instructive response to my book about emptying my childhood home. He is an accomplished scholar, teacher, writer, and my friend. We have met monthly for over six years, fueling our creative energies with spontaneous conversation and attentive listening. Ours is the only “writing group” to which I’ve ever belonged and I treasure our afternoons together. We give time. We take time.
In some professional circles a review by a friend and fellow writer may be dismissed outright, but I couldn’t disagree more. Andy has questioned every single thing about the concept and writing of Leaving 1203—the title, subtitle, cover photo—even whether the person at 1201 or 1207 could write a better book! Who more suited to offer an honest assessment of this book than someone who has thought about it, indeed lived with it, for three years?
Second, thanks to Andy’s vision, I’m looking at the book with new eyes. While I don’t use the word “philosophy” in it, Leaving 1203 is clearly my philosophical take on life. Andy finds within its pages a refuge from our “troubled times” and countless ways to “refocus our gaze” on the “big little things that mean everything.” He accepts the book’s invitation to pay better attention to a daffodil, a dogwood, a dear friend. He rightly intuits that it was my father who introduced me as a child to the world of ideas, and that it was basement conversations with my dad about generosity, the passage of time, peace, and kindness that laid the groundwork for my “job” as a philosopher. Our father/daughter bond offers further proof to Andy that “love and wisdom are inextricably linked.” I’m thankful for my father’s gifts to me and for Andy’s insight.
In retrospect, I realize that the writing and editing of my book about home sustained and fortified me for two years, serving as comfort and inspiration during this grueling period of national distress. I thank Leaving 1203 for being such good company for its author. Every day I felt renewed and reassured as I handled with care the keys to good living: simplicity, hospitality, compassion, silence, sacrifice, generosity, kindness, courage, gumption, humility, humor, relationship. I’m newly grateful for the refresher course in timeless truths, ingrained in me forever, regained through telling the story of home emptying.
Thanksgiving was our favorite one-day holiday at 1203, “a day specifically set aside for gratitude and a celebratory feast savored with regular and first-time guests…. June explained to any newbies that sauerkraut ‘cleanses the palate’ while Mac kindly warned that turnips ‘taste like dirt.’” Tomorrow I toast that yesterday on a new day in another warm home also brimming with good cheer. Long live the ties that bind.