I READ the stories I like. When I cannot find these stories, I write them.
Forged one summer when my younger self ran out of books to read and my exasperated father made me read twice the novels before he returned these to friends (“in case you skipped to the ending”), this self-help principle seems to be rendered obsolete by the endless stories streaming online.
Obscure, literary magazines priced beyond my budget now mirror their content in obscure, literary websites that give free unlimited access or a certain number of free articles per month for subscribers.
Online public libraries have deep virtual shelves that include every bookworm’s fantasy, from the out-of-print to the highly popular titles that are never on the shelf in a brick-and-mortar library.
Digital reservations perfectly work because the marvelous robotic librarians never sleep and carry out without glitch their program to abet the electronic traffic in books.
As a reader, I look for the divergences that connect and the connections that diversify, which reading brings as true rewards. We are chosen by our stories as much as we select the stories we read.
Once, I posted a picture of two boomerangs found in a Japan surplus store after I was tagged by a friend to post 10 photos for 10 days, with no explanations except for the theme of the “love of travel”. The idea of “travel” bemused me as our community had just entered another enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).
Seeing my boomerang post, another friend inquired on Messenger if my boomerangs were functional or decorative. I picked up the boomerangs because of their handpainted images of ancestral creatures from Dreamtime, which, according to the Australian aboriginal myth, is where creation began.
L. explained to me that a functional boomerang that returns back to the thrower has a slanted inner arm. She knew this because her father used to make boomerangs.
And then she told me one of the Dreamtime myths behind the first boomerang. At the start of life, all creatures walked on fours because the sky was too low for upright walking. When a man came upon an unusual piece of wood, so straight and beautiful, he used this to prop up the sky.
The sky stays where it is now. The piece of wood, though, had become bent and ugly. Thinking it was useless, the man threw it away.
“It came back,” narrated my friend. May the stories we release to the world find their way back to renew us.
* First published in SunStar Cebu’s May 2, 2021 issue of the Sunday editorial-page column, “Matamata”