Happy Independence Day!

From a day out in Oakland, Friday. Writing from a public library.



It’s the warmest day I’ve been out in awhile, and my hands feel sticky and my hair is plastered to the back of my neck and my feet feel muffled and tender inside my running shoes. My backpack drags on my shoulders. But I am out, having a holiday.

I’m grateful for this big table, this good light, the silent spaciousness of this northwestern corner of the library. There are windows on two sides, with climbing vines shading them from the outside, and my chair and table glow warm color, slightly reddish, with the straight grain of the wood preserved.

Earlier this week I finished Ben Okri’s novel The Famished Road, about a family eking by in an African ghetto, and the five hundred pages of their life made me feel rich in my meagerest existence. This afternoon I am hot and tired, but I walk with a hat and shoes and a bottle of water. At any moment I can stop for pad see ew or lemonade or to wash my hands; I can get on a bus if I want to, or even a taxi. I walk knowing that I  return afterwards to running water and privacy and electric light to read a book by. And I walk by choice, not having to carry any wares or heavy loads, not having to earn anything while I am out.

For most of the world’s people even an “uncomfortable” day like this would seem unimaginably luxurious. Not only may I eat when I am hungry, drink when I am thirsty, and sleep when I tire, but I can come in out of the sun or the rain or the crowds. I am surrounded by pleasures both everyday and extraordinary: nasturtiums growing up a tree, scented hand lotion, fine food and clothing and books. I have — without having earned it, fought for it, or lived without it — everything.

Geese sitting on a lawn


May you feel replete with blessings, and spread them throughout the world in all ways that you can.