Originally published on The Bucknell Afterword.
On New Year’s Eve I flew to Ecuador to visit my sister for two weeks. (She has been doing volunteer work there at an elementary school and working with street kids in a market). When I landed in Miami for my connecting flight I needed to use the bathroom, but I didn’t go into the first one that I saw when I got off the plane. I hardly ever do, as I always think of Bean’s advice to Petra in the Ender’s Shadow series by Orson Scott Card, about never going into the first bathroom that she sees after deplaning because that is where “they” would expect her to go and would be waiting. Obviously I do not have anyone after me who would be waiting in an airport bathroom for me, and yet, I still will pass it by in favor of one further away from the plane.
Reflecting on this in Miami–the fact that I always think of these books in airports, and the fact that a fictional story-line has changed in a slight way how I move through the world, I wondered if there were other books that had a similar effect on me, and on others.
What immediately came to mind was the way that I always think about Tamora Pierce’s books when I meditate, especially “Wild Magic” and “The Circle Opens: Cold Fire.” I read these years before I started my own meditation practice, and I have since read other texts on meditation, but these fictional fantasy books are the ones that I think of most often when I go to acupuncture or meditate at home. Informed by the descriptions in her books, I always count to 7 on each in and out breath, and I often think of Alanna, Daine, Daja, and Briar and how this practice helped them center themselves.
Other books that have become a part of my thinking/cultural landscape are Harry Potter and The Velveteen Rabbit. For example, I know that many in my generation (or at the very least in my friend circles) when lamenting on the inability for humans to move from one place to another instantaneously will wish for the ability to “apparate” rather than “teleport.” And I have often thought about the concept of Realness in regards to my stuffed animals and beloved possessions as outlined in The Velveteen Rabbit.
There are probably more, but those are the ones that immediately come to mind. How about you? Do you have any books that you often think about when you are doing a particular activity? Or in a particular place? Do you have any practices in your life that have been informed by a book that you have read?