I pretend that I don't have time to read. That my brain is full of medication doses and textbooks and UR numbers. But the truth is that I don't read because I can't sip it slowly and savour. I never could.
I have 10 minutes until a clinic, but I am reading a book that I guiltily ordered from another library that has nothing to do with my studies. It is thin, battered, yellowed, and the paperback is starting to loosen. It will hide well in my overstuffed medical bag, obscured by my stethoscope and the half finished bottle of iced tea.
But I can't put it back in there until I finish reading it. I have put it down momentarily, not so I could write here, but so I can attend the clinic, and looking at its ugly trashed cover, all I want to do is head home, curl up in bed and finish every last word. It is by one of my favourite authors, favourite because we are so similar and yet very different. His writing is an homage to the metaphor, description rich and detail oriented. Observational and biting, stripping bare the frailty of human emotion.
He sees the sadness, the tears and the pointlessness. The unrequited love and the desperation to fix things that were long smashed and broken. The sights and smells under superficial veneer of beauty, the fetid stench of human hypocrisy and the jealously guarded yearning underneath. The fear and the vulnerability. And yet he envies the Gleam chasers, those who watch the flicker of gold at the edge of a hailstorm and think only of the beauty and not of the icy bludgeoning to come.
When I wrote, as in truly wrote, and believed that I could one day write for others, it was so hard to write of beauty, I found it so much easier to write the biting. The painful. To sketch barren landscapes with smouldering embers that danced and flamed when chill gusts blew. To write of pain and to be insightfully scathing of others. Spent and broken, shattered glass on asphalt. But what I wanted most was to capture the Gleam.
There is such beauty in this book for all its melancholic shroud. Tiny shoots of green after a devastating bushfire, semblance of hope and renaissance. The Gleam.
I'm late for my clinic now, and I've stopped lying to myself that I will attend. I will finish my book instead, curled somewhere in a patch of sunlight like a cat, chin resting lazily as read. And as the little fist of guilt clenches in my belly, I remind myself that there will be more clinics, but I can't ignore the pull of the Gleam.