Anyone who knows me, or who has read some of my previous writing, knows I’m not a fan of exercise.

Photo of exercising on an elliptical

More accurately, I loathe and despise it. Loathe AND despise.

But did you know that, by taking on a job where one sits at a desk and writes all day long, it’s quite possible to put on at least ten pounds a year?

Ask me how I know this.

Since I held such a job for the past four years, (go ahead – do the math) I’ve found myself needing to incorporate a trip to the torture chamber (aka the elliptical in the basement) as part of my new daily routine.

Now one of the few things I find even more painful than exercise is watching a timer slowly tick away the seconds until I’ve put my full thirty minutes in.

So in order for me to do my time on the elliptical, it’s absolutely crucial to have something to keep my mind off of what’s really going on.

For me, that means I whip through a fair number of books.

Often while reading, I’ll come across a quote or a passage that sticks with me. Sometimes I’ll post these on Facebook or Tweet them out, but I rarely take the time to explain just why they captured my attention.

But here I am with this brand new blog, so . . .

I’m planning to share some of these quotes as a regular weekly feature in this space. I hope they’ll inspire your thinking and creativity, or maybe just introduce you to a new writer you might want to explore.

Here’s my first offering:

“I don’t have any answers,” said Samuel. He sat quietly in the ruin of his own personal philosophies as if they were smoking timbers in a heap and felt as if he had just murdered someone, or perhaps abandoned someone in a burning building.

Simonton looked at Deaver and then back to Samuel. “So you’re the Indian agent,” he said. “Honored.”

“I am that,” said Samuel. “A Quaker.”

I was introduced to Paulette Jiles by my friend and poetry buddy Megan Willome.

When I visited Megan in Texas last fall, she recommended News of the World, another title by Jiles I’ve also read on the elliptical. Part of the story takes place near where she lives, and I always enjoy fiction that locates me within actual places and historic events.

I’ll likely have something to say about this book in a later post.

The Color of Lightning is an earlier work by Jiles. In it, she chronicles the lives of pioneers who sought to make new homes for themselves in the Texas frontier following the Civil War.

I’m not going to lie; some of it is savage, brutal, and hard to read.

And I think that’s why the above quote stopped me in my tracks. It illustrates, from the point of view of Samuel, how naïve we can be about people and places that are far removed from us.

As a Quaker committed to nonviolence, and having been raised in proper society in Philadelphia, Samuel arrives on the Texas frontier completely unprepared for his role as an Indian Agent for the Federal Government back East.

Devout in his mission to improve the lives of the natives who claim Texas as their tribal land, Samuel soon finds himself compromising both his beliefs and his behavior once he begins to witness the dynamics within this new territory.

And that may not be such a bad thing.

I think about the divisions in contemporary culture, and how often these are fueled by naivety toward another person’s history and life experience.

And the thing about blind spots is, it’s almost impossible to realize we have them.

Now I’d like to hear from you. What have you been reading lately? What are some of the ideas that have been resonating with you? Please share in the comments below.

Jiles, Paulette. The Color of Lightning: A Novel (pp. 309-310). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

Note: I do all of my elliptical reading on my Kindle because of its ability to increase font size. I find it impossible to keep my reading glasses from fogging up while exercising.

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