Reading a book by an author you haven’t read in a while – a favorite author – is something like meeting up with an old friend.
A good friend.
The Depth of True Friendship
You smile at the sight of your friend and their face lights up. You shake hands or hug.
The two of you chat over your usual order, or sit on the back porch (a pitcher of lemonade or pot of tea nearby) and begin to catch up.
And before you know it, or without even really realizing it, your conversation has plunged into deeper waters than you dare to go with the average acquaintance.
And that’s why you’re such good friends, because you don’t stay on the surface.
You’re not afraid to venture beneath the ripples, diving into the heart and soul of friendship … those spaces that can and should be known if we care enough (and are brave enough) to wade in the deep waters.
With a good friend, you can do that without fear.
Your conversation doesn’t start and end with, “Hello, how are you?” or, “Wow, that storm last week was a real gully washer.”
It’s not necessarily even, “My son failed his math class and I’m not sure he still wants to go to college.”
Although your conversation with your friend might start there, it goes deeper.
Why that decision of your son makes you fear your parenting over the years hasn’t been enough, or that you have somehow enabled him, or disabled him through your own set of fears and hang-ups.
Whatever this friendship is, and the conversations you share it is not, “Everything is fine.”
It’s truth. Honesty.
It’s revealing questions you have and fears that loom, and situations that still threaten to overwhelm you.
Somehow, when shared with a good friend, they seem not as much.
Or a light shines so far away as to seem only a pinprick that could very well be an oncoming train for all you know but, for the moment, illuminates your conversation just enough.
As a friend bestows a little light … perhaps with their words … or perhaps through your own words when you’re finally honest and brave enough to voice them, you realize what’s at the core of that thing you’re fearing or running away from.
You’re finally at home enough to where you can be yourself and in your own skin.
The Friendship of a Good Author
This is true friendship … or at least one blessed aspect of it.
And somehow, in a way, reading a book by a favorite author has a similar effect.
(I hope it is not just me who feels this way.)
You smile at their audacity to put something in print that you never would have confessed in a hundred years.
It gives you confidence that maybe that feeling or fear doesn’t really need to stay hidden.
You smile at their choice of words or are completely awed by the way they seamlessly weave together a concept or thoughts that you’ve always felt …
or wondered …
or held deep inside.
As you read, the book turns into a friend. You think, Hey, that’s me in there. In those pages.
And maybe, just maybe, somewhere in their heart.
Somehow, in that way that doesn’t really make sense but doesn’t have to. Because truth is stranger than fiction.
And the words we speak and the words we write are sometimes a part of us that come from a place so deep that we don’t know exactly what’s going on in there.
Writing to Join the Conversation
Perhaps that’s one of the reasons I write.
If you are an author, or a blogger, or a poet, it’s probably the same for you.
You write to figure out who else might understand or relate to or wonder about the same things you do.
And that’s why when you meet an author through the pages of a book (new or old), you know you have made a friend.
You know you can be yourself with that person, when and if you ever meet them.
That if you had a chance to be a friend, your conversation would venture beyond the “how are you” and “I hope your health is not affected negatively by all the smog in the air.”
Because for so long, through their words and their stories, they have been a part of your life …
Just like a friend is – no matter how near or far.
Through them, or because of them, you can have the courage to be yourself …
… to contribute to the conversation with your own words and writings, by imbibing their ideas and stories and with those running deeply through the current of your own soul, writing your own narratives with the deeper richness that their stories provide …
… because having the courage to be our true selves is often the very bravest the best and worst of us can be.
To let a bit of all that flows beneath the surface slip out for a glimpse from time to time.
In that courageous act of writing, you create the opportunity for another person to read your words and find in them a reason to hold onto hope or to believe in the impossible.
And yet another friendship is made.