Monday, January 25, 2010

Magic Seeing

"I am from an English cup of tea and quiet books
from the closeness of my mother's reading;
a place to look for me."~Tab



Magic Seeing. 
Can you feel it? Who taught you?


On evenings when my father pursued his business, courted the telephone and wooed his clients, my mother drank English breakfast tea and then introduced me to a universe full of magic.


Waking to morning rain on our tin roof.
Magic.
The cup cake tin full of rainbow bites of frosted color.
Magic.
Butter melting into warm, puffy bread, my little sister's hand in mine, the sound of Saturday's lawns being mowed, sepia afternoons filled with the smell of popcorn...
All magic.
What intelligence does a child need to see such things? Yet at first I saw none of them.


My teachers on the art of Magic Seeing were my mother and the words. Words in songs as she rocked me. And then words as she spoke from the pages of books. Living words. Words where the magic became the air I breathed.


In the crook of my mother's arm I was introduced to the feeling of stillness, a rare commodity in our house, and the texture of world's inside the pages of books. The closeness of my mother's reading helped my dim eyes grow bright and alert. In those moments her voice was gentle water lapping at my toes. Zigzag thinking inside me slowed. The back pack of constant shame and guilt slipped from my shoulders, and I rested.


In that quietness I met the folk of the Far Away Tree. Silky. Saucepan man. Goblins. And lands that came and went as they pleased. Later I met Anne and George and her dog Timmy. I padded beside Lassie on her quest for home. My quest also. I ran my fingers through the mane of the great Aslan. In the shadows of the whispering trees of Narnia I was allowed to be a child.


Magic Seeing had everything to do with learning from inside myself; looking within and then outwards. Words became images. And within the images were feelings that built to understanding, empathy and insights. Books were play and a door to childhood. And there were few such doors outside of the world of words.


To this day my mother thinks she failed me. But on those quiet nights, the lilt of her reading rocked me gently through a stony childhood. Characters lived through her voice. She was no longer hidden from me by the abuse of her marriage and I was freed to look for myself for just a little while. The seeds of my adult self, the magic I still see in words, the gift of life inside me, were all sown beside my mother. If she failed me, it was not in the reading. It was not in the gift of words. 
And it was not in the Magic Seeing.




What about you?Who first opened up the world of reading to you?

38 comments:

  1. I have to say over the last few years it was a group of girls who started meeting on a Monday night.
    Tab you were and are a great leader. Your questions on books really made me think about what I was reading. You make reading a book more then reading.

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  2. Wow....does your mother read your blog? This is beautiful. And it also made me hungry for a cupcake!

    I'm not sure who first introduced me to the magic of words. Probably my parents, but it isn't nearly as profound as your story!

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  3. I hope your mom read this. Moms feel bad about things they did wrong, but like you said, there are areas they don't fail as and they should know that.
    Beautiful post. Books were my magic too!

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  4. Excellent!!!! You mom is special. ;) It was my dad who taught me to love books. He read to us kids all the time and I found out later that on Saturdays, he kept my mom from making us do chores when we had our nose in a book! (wish I'd known that back then...I would have ALWAYS kept my nose in a book! lol)

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  5. Thanks Shelley. I look forward to leading one again, if that chance ever arises.

    Katie, no my mother doesn't even know I have a blog. Sadly, we aren't close. It's complicated and probably very simple. I am looking forward to the day when she can read some of my words.

    Jess- One day maybe. there are always areas where our parents got it right. I have to dig a bit sometimes, but the happy memories are there, hidden in the weeds.

    Sherrinda, yes, she is. One day maybe I'll tell her and she'll be able to hear it. I love that your parents didn't make you do chores when you were reading. Mine did. But then I was always reading LOL!

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  6. "sepia afternoons..." Beautiful.

    There's no gift like that of real sight. And other worlds to lose oneself in.

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  7. Your mom gave you a gift that will keep on giving. One day she will read your blog (I hope) and feel the love.

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  8. Even though we don't have perfect parents or childhoods, I love that we can look back and find gems of things that shaped us into who are. And it certainly sounds like your mother was instrumental in shaping your creativity.

    How's the new home? Are you getting settled in finally? :)

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  9. Perhaps sooner then later, you can mail the words you wrote to your mother. Just stick them in an envelope and let them go to her. Sometimes if we don't do thing we should do now, we lose our chance.

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  10. Breathtaking words, I pray your mother reads this. I thank God everyday for my imperfect parents, they gave me more than I can ever thank them for- including a love for reading.

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  11. Beautiful Tab. Mother's are the first God a child really knows, and how wonderful they are indeed.

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  12. This is beautiful, Tab.

    My mother, too, opened my eyes to reading. She read to me growing up. There were always books in the house. She was always reading gardening books or craft books. I was lost in fantasy and she encouraged it. There are new books I discover all the time, books that I skim over, books that I devour. But there will always be the first books, the ones I discovered as a child in the library. I still read those. They still bring tears to my eyes.

    Jen

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  13. My mom was the one who turned me into a reader as well. She read all the time and though our tastes are different I still know books are something we have in common.
    Beautiful post Tabitha. So sorry your not close with your mother. I beg my mom to read my blog, but she's not interested - it hurts that she won't even look.

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  14. What a lovely tribute to your mother. I can only imagine how this post must touch her heart and validate so much for her. I hope my children see this magic that I strive to put into their lives every single day.

    And for me? Mom as well.

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  15. This was gorgeous and sad all at once. Your mother gave you a great gift.

    Both of my parents read to me often. I remember the whole family read books aloud sometimes--it was how I discovered A Wrinkle in Time and The BFG and Number the Stars, all favorites to this day.

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  16. Tab, this is a really lovely post. Thank you for creating it for us!

    It was my father who used to read to me and who introduced me to so many things that I still love today: chocolate milkshakes, old slapstick comedies, walking through the woods. He also passed on to me the notion that learning could be a pleasure and a thing to be sought for its own sake, a true joy.

    My mother? Well. She taught me that I am hopelessly flawed, a bother, a disappointment and a chore,, not to mention an embarrassment.

    I carry both their lessons with me every day.

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  17. MAgic seeing is the way you spin words. the way I sit on the edge of my seat to see what beauty Tab will string together. The way you assure me there are great authors out there waiting to be discovered. The way I look forward to finding you in the bookstore so I can say to the world, I knew her when... XOXO

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  18. Oh, Tab, what a gift you have! The Magic Seer!!!

    Thank you, Mother, for pulling me into your lab and reading me stories.

    Thank you, Mrs. Miller, my college literature professor, who unveiled metaphor and simile and irony and showed me the other world of words--the magic seeress!!!

    Love this place.
    Patti

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  19. Great post for your mother. For me, it was my grandmother (and hey! I have a pic of her on my blog today. Go figure). She loved reading and playing cards and those are some of my fondest memories of her. And of childhood.

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  20. Beautiful. Inspires me to read to my daughte a lot more.

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  21. Whenever I read things like this I long for a mommy, not a mother, but such a one as you described. My magic was self created. It was none of her. Still is not.

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  22. My mom. My mom is my hero.

    Your words are always so beautiful, Tabitha.

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  23. Mammy, oh that big hen with huge wings where she's always kept us so very well safe and sound
    Too 'big' a mother to grow older...

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  24. Great post. Both my parents were readers, but they did not read to us kids. I had a first grade teacher that used to read to us for 30 minutes everyday. I loved her. She made the stories so real. She would lower the lights and every single kid was mesmerized. I read to all my kids.

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  25. Beautiful, Tabitha! I grew up with a mother and a brother who always had their noses in books. My mom and I eventually enjoyed the same genres and had fun trading books.

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  26. Wonderful post. Very eloquent. I grew up reading. I started with books handed down by my sisters - The Bobbsey Twins mostly.

    Helen
    Straight From Hel

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  27. Magic seeing for me has been more self taught, but reading...that was just something my parents both did. Always.

    Shelves full to bursting with books. And reading book on trips, in the family van, spilling out of purses and brief cases and really, all over my childhood.

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  28. Such a beautiful post. My mother also gave me the gift of words, but in a different way - she gave me a book when she had to sent me away from her, and that book represented her love for me the year I was gone. One day I opened it and I could read it.

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  29. Hmm... my first grade teacher read "Lion, Witch, and Wardrobe" to me... that's the first story I remember. The next, a babysitter reading "Brer Rabbit".

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  30. Both of my parents read to me when I was very young, and they both used their spare time to read novels. I wanted to emulate them at first, so I read. And then I fell in love with the stories.

    My dad lent me his copy of Hitchhiker's Guide when I was in grade four. Never looked back.

    Now I read to my daughter.

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  31. Hey Tab! I loved The Folk of the Faraway Tree too! It was the first "real" novel (chapter book), that I ever read, in Yr 3. My mum loved reading and was always buying me books when I was little - but this was the book that clinched the deal for me :-)

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  32. That is so lovely.
    I don't remember my mother reading to me (except for the news in the paper) My grandma loved the library and books and my nan could barely read. I didn't get good at reading until highschool. I only finished a few books in primary one being James and the Giant Peach - after reading that I wanted to write. I love reading now- and reading with my kids.

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  33. Achingly lovely!

    My mother too... so like yours in so many ways.

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  34. This reminds me of my mother and how she used to read to us when we went to bed :) Being read to has fueled my love for books and I'll always be eternally grateful.

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  35. My great grandmother had shelves of Time-Life books with pictures of ancient Egypt, Greece and Sumeria, black holes and nebula...I started with pictures, but the words on those pages were too long and elusive, so my grandma, the mail-order maven, sent for Dr. Seuss and E.B White and before I knew it I was reading. I don't remember anyone ever telling me stories aloud, other than the unknown lady on the audiotapes of Sleeping Beauty that I listened to as I thumbed through the picturebook and the librarian on Tuesdays. I learned to read by absorbing the words around me until they became part of me. Just me and the books.

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  36. Tabitha, I am having a day when I really question myself as a mom and home teacher. Thanks for reminding me that it's not always about facts, figures, and tests. I really needed that reminder, and you put it beautifully.

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  37. My mom, but not lap reading. I can't really remember picture books, but bible stories, yes, and later The Anne of Green Gables series. She sat in the room I shared with my sister and read it out loud.
    I read to my kids and with my kids. It's so simple, yet invaluable, and sweet.

    Prayers for healing between you and your mother.

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