A couple of weeks ago, I was at Costco doing a product run for the restaurant. Usually these shopping excursions are a matter of running to the store, racing around grabbing everything we need and high-tailing it back to the restaurant double-time, because there is some vital ingredient—like toilet paper or tuna—that we needed yesterday.
But on this occasion, it was a Saturday, the café would be closed way before we got back with the goods, and I had a few moments to "shop." For me, this meant a leisurely inspection of the two huge tables of brand new, shiny, never-owned-by-another-human-being books. Costco is just about the only place that I can afford to buy NEW books, and they always have an enticing selection of the hottest—novels, non-fiction, cookbooks, gardening books…anything that might catch the eye of the upper-middle-income suburban buying public.
I don't keep a list in my mind of what books it might be good to look for at Costco. I've only recently rejoined the human race when it comes to current literature. I just amble around the counter, recognize a few titles that have penetrated the fog of entrepreneurship, and pick up one or two that look promising. On that particular day, I was scanning the cookbooks when I came upon a smallish paperback that was evidently out of place. Someone had picked it up, carried it around, and decided they didn't want it after all. So of course it was just tossed wherever, rather than returned to its proper stack.
I glanced at the book, then grabbed it. Obviously, it had been put there just for me, and who was I to refuse such an obvious knock in the head by the Universe. "Here. Read this."
It was Barack Obama's Audacity of Hope.
Mind you, I don't have a whole lot of time or brainpower these days to invest in reading for pleasure. I don't think I've read an entire book in twenty-eight months. But I was determined to crack this one open. It seemed….important. The book has 362 pages, and in two weeks, I've made it to page 24. Not because it's a bad book, or because it's hard to read. Just because that's the best I can do with the time I have.
The book is, in fact, a treasure. I've already got several pages folded at the corners, marking passages I need to go back and savor. Exactly things I have been thinking. Things I might have written. Things I did write, though not so eloquently and thoughtfully as Mr. Obama.
“With the rest of the public, I had watched campaign culture metastasize throughout the body politic, as an entire industry of insult—both perpetual and somehow profitable—emerged to dominate cable television, talk radio, and the New York Times best-seller list…”
“…what’s troubling is the gap between the magnitude of our challenges and the smallness of our politics—the ease with which we are distracted by the petty and trivial, our chronic avoidance of tough decisions, our seeming inability to build a working consensus to tackle any big problem.”
This is a wonderful book. An energizing book. As I read, I smile and nod so much that my face and neck are getting an aerobic workout. Now and then, a quiet, "Yessss!" escapes from my lips. (It's a good thing I'm reading in the safety and seclusion of my own bedroom.) Because I can hardly contain my excitement, that a man who writes these things, who understands these things, who believes these things, is going to be the next President of the United States.
So I'm going to take it upon myself to pass on the Universe's message to me.
"Here. Read this."