On reading

Published 8:58 am Wednesday, August 5, 2009

It’s happening right now. Right this very minute.

In some mystical, magical wonderful way my thoughts are going into your head. We are communicating and neither your mouth nor mine is moving. You are not in my presence and I have no idea your location.

I can draw a circle and erase the right portion (a “C”), a mountain with a bar across the middle (an “A”) and a clothesline pole (a “T”). Put them together (“CAT”) and I know the image that appears in your mind. I put it there from way over here. Extraordinary.

Now try this. “BAM!!!” You heard that, didn’t you? And no sound was made.

How about this? “Chocolate.” Can you taste it? Your mouth is watering right now. Amazing.

OK, one more. You have just walked barefoot down to the ocean, the sand squishing between your toes. The gulls are squawking, the waves casually breaking as they roll in. Your hair flutters back from your head as the wind comes in off the ocean. Closing your eyes, you tilt your head, mouth closed, and breathe deeply. Can you smell the salty air?

Now here’s something even wilder. People can do this to you who are no longer alive (I’m not making this up). Leo Tolstoy talked to me last week. He died Nov. 20, 1910.

Ernest Hemingway shot himself July 2, 1961, yet we conversed recently.

This morning, John Steinbeck shared his thoughts, though he lay buried at Gardens of Memories Cemetery in Salinas, Calif.

This astonishing process brings to our living rooms the capacity to navigate the universe.

We can travel with Lewis and Clark, ponder with Pythagoras, imagine with Einstein or die alongside Juliet. All from the comfort of an armchair. Another world is but a page away.

Amid all this, I leave you with two thoughts:

Write. Pick up a pen, pencil or computer and carve out words. Immortalize your thoughts. Start with mutterings, musings or memories, but write.

By nature of your interpreting this scribbling reveals your capacity for such activity. Like a painting, it is uniquely yours, an original work of art that illuminates your soul. You, too, can speak from beyond the grave.

Read. Crack one of those hard rec-tangular objects on your shelf and take a peek.

Travel somewhere with the author. Should you not desire his company, choose another. One that will sweep you up toward distant shores.

Learn, explore, dream, imagine, love, cry, hate. Become unaware of self.

“But Rex,” you say, “I don’t read.”

Oh really? What are you doing now?