Creative Reading

book quote

I’m reading The Girl with All the Gifts by M. R. Carey. It’s a zombie apocalypse story with a twist. As I read, I’m highlighting clever phrases that strike my fancy, motivated by the vague notion that one day I’ll turn to them for inspiration when I write that book I keep thinking I’ll write.

As with most everything I do for pleasure, I’m reading the book on my phone. It makes highlighting, note taking, and perusing the markups I make super easy.

What struck me about the quote above is how the author was able to capture urgency, priority, clarity, and purpose all in one sentence fragment, rules for writing be damned. The words say to me, “If I am not successful in accomplishing this one thing right now, nothing that follows will matter.”

That’s a powerful idea. Are there now-or-never moments that require decisive action? I believe there are. Some are obvious. I think of swerving a vehicle to avoid a collision, or taking a cake out of the oven when the timer expires.

Other crucial instances are much more enigmatic. If I say something, what will be the response? More often than not, there are too many variables to make a prediction. Frequently, I think I know without a doubt the way things will go, only to be surprised by an unimagined conclusion.

If I leave something unsaid, what possibilities will be forever out of reach? Hesitancy, silence, or inaction at just the wrong moment can say more than an entire book of words. How are we to know, all at the same time, all of the time, the where, the when, and the what required to meet the if-this-then-that order on which our existence is built?

If not for forgiveness, grace, and a higher power [I call that power “God”] who is working constantly for the best of possibilities, I would freeze in a perpetual state of indecision, which itself carries an admitted outcome, and is not a rewarding way to live.

May I have the wisdom to act decisively when living requires action, and may I give and receive grace when actions fail me.

Mushroom Surprise


A mushroom has popped up in violet #1. The surprise of it makes me think of frogs and faeries. While I know a fungal spore made its way through processing, to Lowe’s, to potted plant in my living room, it’s more fun to imagine wee people hidden in the walls of the house who only come out when the humans and the cats and dogs are asleep.

One of the wee folk mounted a mighty frog who hopped onto the coffee table, where the faerie intentionally planted the spore several weeks ago. He’s waiting for me to take a nap so he can come back this afternoon to harvest it for Sunday dinner, much to his family’s delight. He noticed the mushroom yesterday, but left it to ripen overnight. Leaving it is a risk he weighed, knowing that if I saw it I might uproot it and whisk it to the trash, ruined and forever lost.

Worse, I might pop it in my mouth like the greedy bastard I am. While totally delicious and completely safe, he’s counting on my mushroom ignorance to prompt me to leave it alone. On the off chance that I’ll snatch it up and eat it, he’s sprinkled it with his version of pesticide, a concoction that, if I were to ingest it, would either make me violently ill or send me on a two-day psychedelic trip. He knows that if I eat this particular mushroom it’s wasted, but he hopes I’m capable of learning from my mistakes and that I’ll leave his horticultural efforts alone in the future.

I wish he’d just come out and introduce himself. I’d love to meet him! But why would he? He’s perfectly happy living in the walls and between the ceiling and the floor with his life-partner and their children from previous marriages.