Tanned and wearing overalls, a woman comes into my library and gathers a stack of library books for her children. For this moment, it’s just the two of us. She’s a woman who doesn’t usually check out books for herself, but she asks for a recommendation. I ask her what she wants — fiction or nonfiction? Something easy?
She pauses and then tells me, I need something good. I’m having a spiritual crisis. I’m turning forty and raising two kids and….
I add, And the world’s falling apart?
She laughs. Yes. That might be it.
I pull Maggie O’Farrell’s book off the shelf, and she doesn’t look at it, simply adds it to her pile while we keep talking. She’s a woman who seems, to me, to have been fortunate with finances, surrounded by family. We talk for a bit more, and then I offer that change is opportunity — painful as that might appear.
We step outside, take off our masks, and walk around the gardens, talking about cucumbers.
The things in life which don’t go to plan are usually more important, more formative, in the long run, than the things that do.