Listen for them. Thank them.
People speak of who influenced their lives and so I pondered for myself. and for me it was odd, for it hasn’t been people, but I can name scads of books that have made a difference to me. Those of the last century, many older than that, and some of them downright ancient.
Of course, the New Testament marks all Christians. Not so much the Old Testament for they were tales told round the evening fire, and kept alive until the written word came into being. All of the Middle East told and revered The Creation and Ten Commandments in the same way, long before Abraham went to the mountain for us.
Then, for me, there was Pearl Buck. Oh, that wise woman. Her books were based mostly in China, for her parents were life-time Missionaries there. Buck’s characters, however, coped with circumstances much the same as all people do, and they marked and taught me. No Therapist could have been better or wiser. For me.
Also high on my list was Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings. Her tales of Florida and its people before Big Money found it, are heart-breakers and the situations in the Scrub Oak are the same as in Murray, Utah.
I read “Lives of a Bengal Lancer”, during an early spiritually critical time of my life. Matching what was happening to me, with the wisdom Francis Yeats Brown found in the late 19th and early 20th centuries in India was a wonder to me. It was a Library Book, so not mine to keep. But much of its wisdom stayed with me, and a month ago I recalled the part it had played in my thinking, bought a copy, and knew again how it had helped me through difficult times. Oh, the wisdom of the printed page. And I mean a well-chosen printed page.
Socrates never wrote a book, but his students did and so his words come to us. Not a bad teacher, either, for Plato was one of his students. ‘Google’ his name on your computor and read a few of his words. Bless him.
The Murray Library was my teacher, and I still recall the wonderful freedom to prowl and take what books I wanted. I read much that I didn’t understand, but years later when I was older and wiser, (wiser?) I remembered what I’d read and remembering, could say, “Oh, now I know what that long ago book meant”.
Marvelous. Unseen Helpers give us aid long before we know they even exist. When I began writing seriously, first for the Murray Eagle and Green Sheets, I found that my long years of reading had taught me how to put words together, choosing how to make them flow and tell my thoughts. Reading is the best teacher (influence) there is.
My Dad had no school training beyond childhood classes in Sweden, but he was reading a huge book on the History of China when he died. I wish I’d been smart enough to talk to Dad, but due to his late-in-life marriage, and as I was one of the last children, he was like a grandfather to me, I didn’t know we had the same kind of mind until he was gone. What a waste for both of us. I wonder if he ever prowled the books I brought home? He never commented, if he did.
What and who influenced your life? Send a silent Thank You to them, even though they’re probably in The Next Room by now, but just maybe they can feel our Thanks and smile back at us. Hope so.