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the man who didn't buy a book
(a lesson in inspiration)
I went into a very large bookstore today. I was looking for - and found - three specific books that I am sure will help me write my own. I’ve got an idea brewing, and I’m looking for “inspiration”. (“Inspiration” is code for “stories to borrow from”.)
Even at 10:00 am, and even in these covidtimes, there were a handful of people lined up to buy stuff.
At this particular bookstore, there are signs indicating exactly where the line begins, so I knew how to find it. I waited maybe ninety seconds to check out.
When I finally made my way to the counter with my books, an older gentleman with a cane ambled up to the cashier just in front of me. The cashier lady says, "Actually sir, the line to make purchases begins over there."
The man looks around a moment, then begins wandering to the other side of the store with his cane in one hand and a giant book in another.
I bought my books and left.
About ninety seconds later, I'm pulling out of my parking spot and I see the old man leaving with his cane but without his giant book.
In my mind, I decided that he didn't want to wait. So I got mad at the cashier lady: Don't make the old guy with the cane go to the back of the line, especially in these covidtimes.
Then I got mad at me: I should have just let him check out before me. But if I’m honest, I think I probably would have gotten pissed if the cashier had suggested anything of the sort, especially in these covidtimes.
I stopped at the crosswalk as he slowly made his way across the road. I looked at him - specifically at the lines on his left hand, the one without the book - and I wondered what stories they’d held through the years.
I became certain that he’d seen a lot of stuff in his life. And I became glad he didn't buy that giant book. I wondered if maybe he’d ever written his own because I longed to borrow from it.
I glanced over at my meager stack in the passenger seat, and I guessed that I was probably looking in the wrong place for inspiration.