Quietly and without fanfare, the book-selling behemoth, Amazon, was able to get their intergalactic division up and running in late September (amazon.intergalactic-services.com). I took this opportunity to order just one book from your lovely planet Earth, and that was:
...by Open Salon's (now Our Salon's) own Patrick Frank.
Occasionally I will throw all caution to the wind and judge a book by its cover, and in this case, I am happy to say the book was all that it promised to be, and more.
The first half of On the Blue Ridge Line is a collection of two-dozen or so essays...
...beginning with Keeping the Spirit Alive:
"There is an element of courage involved in making a commitment to strive with all your might to create something of value--regardless of what the world may think--at least, at the outset. Courage is also required to follow your unique vision, though it may differ markedly from the vision of those around you, or at least of the dominant culture. The world may say it does not understand your vision. The world may say your work has no intrinsic value. The world may say your time will be wasted--pursuing this vision.
But when such a vision arises, along with the urgent need to shape and share it with others, the creative person feels impelled to step out and make a strong effort--or something of great value dies inside."
Patrick explores different doorways, through which creative expression may be opened...ranging from observation of nature, collaboration with other artists, and his own experiences working as a teacher. One of his most touching themes is homelessness and the meaning of home, as he shares his own experiences of being homeless and how he emerged and rebuilt from that. From his chapter Healing Through Trauma and Grief:
"When significant loss comes, we never feel prepared. It always smashes us in the face. We are used to feeling in control of our lives, knowing how to cope with tremendous challenges...But ultimately every one of use must, in the end, experience powerlessness, the fact that we cannot control every outcome...But tragedy can open a door that may have been shut for many years. A broken relationship may be healed. Silence may be replaced by words...I believe that liberation comes when key relationships are healed, even when we are on the verge of passing across a threshold that will never be traversed again."
The second half of On the Blue Ridge Line is composed of song lyrics, which read as poetry.
I was happy to recognize some of the lyrics, including Back to the Sun, one of the first poems I read here on Patrick's blog, which drew me to this captivating, understated writer.
Most of the poems were new to me. "Seneca at Dawn," is about the love he shares with his wife Linda, a theme which runs like a warm and glowing thread throughout the book.
Patrick has a way with words that is difficult to describe, but I would say he has a light touch...with just a few words, he can evoke a time and place, and infuse it with life, so that I feel I am there.
The following excerpt is from "A Touch of Green," about a girl trying to establish a new life in the city, after emigrating from an unnamed, distant land:
"Blow wind, blow/may your spirit
help her grow/May you safeguard
her desire to be free
She needs a steady job/she needs someone to love/to play the music/of her soul
a touch of green"
On the Blue Ridge Line, as the prose and poetry unfold, reveals glimpses of a man as he looks at his own life's journeys. Woven throughout is an abiding sense of wonder, hope, patience, stillness, caring, creating, and reaching out, as a path through the dark times of life.
I finished On the Blue Ridge Line feeling a sense of having had a conversation with a friend, which left me refreshed and renewed of spirit.
Thank you, Mr. Patrick Frank, for sharing your experiences and inspiration with us!
Your correspondent from afar,
(p.s. Ordering this book was well worth the trouble of working with Amazon's new intergalactic delivery crew, Fed Extraterrestrials...but that's another story for another day... :)
Patrick's blog can be seen at: (http://oursalon.ning.com/profile/PatrickFrank99#.VRQ51I5jevk)