Worth the goal, running or reading ‘A Tale for the Time Being’

13book “A Tale for the Time Being” by Ruth Ozeki.

LAURENA MAYNE DAVIS/The Daily Sentinel As part of the 2014 One Book, One Mesa County celebration, there a community discussion with a moderated panel on Wednesday about this year’s selection, “A Tale for the Time Being” by Ruth Ozeki, at the Central Library Community Room.

I have a rule of yes when it comes to spending time with my kids. If they want me to do something with them, I’ll do it.

No “Cat’s in the Cradle” regrets for me. I know they have lots of friends and other options, and in but a few years’ time I’ll long for the days when one of them would ask me to play catch on kind of a crummy day, watch gross zombies getting hacked with machetes, or run a half-marathon.

It’s that last one that got me. Again. Last year, my daughter Isabel asked me to run a half-marathon with her in the spring. I didn’t have much time to train, but I ended up doing OK, although the recovery was pretty brutal. Phew. Cross that one off the list.

This year she asked again. Uh ... yes. So I have a pointed reason to be working out, although my idea of training involves watching HGTV remodeling shows on the gym treadmill, followed by leisurely stretching and a nice long soak in the hot tub.

At the same time, my husband has started racing motocross, which is extremely physically demanding. His idea of training is to set a stop watch for 30 minutes and see how far he can sprint up Mount Garfield, with the goal of getting farther every time.

That kind of hill running causes every atom in the recesses of your lungs to bend over and hack in protest. It makes you achingly aware of tendons and ligaments in your hips and the backs of your knees you never even knew you had. Suffice it to say that running with him has stepped up my game.

Which brings me to reading.

As part of the 2014 One Book, One Mesa County celebration, there was a moderated panel discussion Wednesday about the literary approach to this year’s selection, “A Tale for the Time Being” by Ruth Ozeki, at the Central Library Community Room.

Moderator for the discussion was T.J. Gerlach, an assistant professor in the English department at Colorado Mesa University. On the panel were Julie Barak, an English professor at CMU, and Brenda Wilhelm, a professor in the Sociology Department at CMU. And me, although I bought my way in. The Daily Sentinel agreed to sponsor the event some time ago, and I was invited to the panel.

So I had a pointed reason to be reading “A Tale for the Time Being,” too.

But somehow, over the last couple of months, I made slow progress. There was the problem with falling asleep reading every night and having to re-read two or three pages the next night.

Then there was the distracting binge-watching of “The Walking Dead” with my daughter Piper. We watched 3 1/2 seasons in a few weeks to get caught up to the new episodes in February. Yikes.

I carried “A Tale for the Time Being” with me everywhere: saxophone lessons, dermatology appointments, basketball games. I had flashbacks to American Literature in college when I cruised through “The Scarlet Letter” and “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” only to be thwarted by the great white whale himself in “Moby Dick.” Try as I may I could not finish that book, even though I liked it.

So I had precedence for this kind of failure, and I had a deadline. On Wednesday, I still hadn’t finished reading, so I went home from work to read without distraction, calculated how many pages were left and how many hours I had to read, and established a page count hourly goal. I set a stopwatch and checked my progress hourly: first 34 pages an hour, then 38, then 52.

I finished with enough time to spare to go on one of those grueling Mount Garfield runs with my husband before the panel discussion. I felt equally exhilarated by both accomplishments.

Gerlach, Barak and Wilhelm were brilliant and fun. For the imaginative, it is a particular pleasure to discuss a book. The audience was no less prepared with great questions and a desire to share their impressions.

As for me, I love how Ozeki framed her story: a novelist struggles to write her memoir while feeling trapped: in grief, in her career, and quite physically by the confines of an island. Instead of living the island, though, she brings another and delightfully parallel world to her own in the form of a young girl’s diary.

It is worth setting goals and pushing yourself, whether that’s running or reading. If you haven’t already read it, I encourage you to read “A Tale for the Time Being.”

As for me, I’m going to finally finish “Moby Dick.”

Have news about local authors, bookstores, book clubs or writing groups? Email Laurena Mayne Davis at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Davis is the director of marketing and product development for The Daily Sentinel.


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