In conversation

Authors on book tour often join each other "in conversation" for events. I enjoyed several such events in the spring, when Imagine Your Life Like This was released, and now I'm gearing up for fall readings and literary festivals. If books toured together, I imagine Bittersweet and Enchantment having a chat. Interesting products of our time, and also antidotes to some of the less pleasant features of our time, particularly related to time and where we put our attention and how we live our lives.

Artwork found at Michael's: "I am very busy"

Briefly excerpted:

"This book is about the melancholic direction, which I call the 'bittersweet': a tendency to states of longing, poignancy, and sorrow; an acute awareness of passing time; and a curiously piercing joy at the beauty of the world. The bittersweet is also about the recognition that light and dark, birth and death—bitter and sweet—are forever paired." - Bittersweet: How Sorrow and Longing Make Us Whole by Susan Cain 

"When I try to understand what it is that I believe, I'm like a child caught in play. There is no solidity. Sensation gathers in my peripheral vision, but dissipates when I turn to look at it directly. It does not survive my scrutiny, any attempt to systematise or analyse. It is a different kind of belief, a different kind of feeling. It requires faith, and I have always been short on that." - Enchantment: Awakening Wonder in an Anxious Age by Katherine May 

The feelings run deep, even when I was young. I was not always melancholy; I am not, now. But in touch with a mood, yes. Like not wanting to have my picture taken on this particular day. 

Olan Mills portrait of young Sarah, over it

Bittersweet asks, on a scale of 0 (not at all) to 10 (completely) if you tear up at commercials, if you're moved by old photos, if you react intensely to music, art, or nature. Reader, I am off the charts. Especially related to music. Still processing the experience of getting to see Band of Horses in concert last weekend, of hearing "The Funeral" live for the first time. 

Enchantment reads like a meditation, with sections themed around the elements: Earth, Water, Fire, Air. I thought of it often this summer, watching the hummingbirds at the feeder, using the rain barrel to water the garden. Getting back to the senses, moving away from watchful, e-mail checking anxiety. 

Both Bittersweet and Enchantment gave me greater understanding while making me feel understood. No small feat. Books! Thank you, Susan Cain and Katherine May.