On our travels last week we went to the New York Public Library. It was quite grand and beautiful and oh so far from the maddening crowd. It was the perfect oasis on a hot afternoon after miles of walking the city to see the sights. On the way up the steps I glanced to my right and there was a card table with a Meet The Author sign taped to it. I was fervently waved over but instead smiled and waved back and we went inside.
When we were leaving the library I said to Mark, "Let's go meet the author. I don't know why but I think we should go over there." We approached the table and were greeted warmly by two men.
The author launched into his sales pitch. I was expecting there to be a single book but instead there was a variety of neatly stacked books to chose from.
As I perused them I asked "Are you self-published?"
"Indeed I am. Like all the great authors are - Walt Whitman, Edgar Allen Poe, Rubyard Kipling, to name but a few."
"Well you're in good company," I said. "Which one of these is your newest?"
"This one," he said picking up the one titled Zoe. "It's the story of a teenager traveling the country and writing letters home to his Zoe. Letters about life and love."
"Is that one your favorite child at the moment?" I asked.
"Oh no, it would have to be this one," he said picking up the one titled Martha. "The story of a dancer told in poetry."
"A dancer? Really? We came to New York to see our daughter in a performance tonight. She's a dancer."
"I am of the opinion," he said, "that a dancer is the most disciplined of all the artists. That in most cases they give up everything to dance, especially their youth and their bodies. That the slightest of gestures, the delicate placement of their hands when every muscle in their body is under extreme stress is discipline that takes hours and hours of practice and is over in the fleeting minutes of a performance. But you know all this right?"
I was taken aback. Did I know that? I don't know. Maybe.
"I thought about this story for years but couldn't figure out how to write it. Then I went to a live performance and it all came to me when the announcer came on stage before the show started. Do you want to know what he said?"
"In humanity I see grace, beauty and dignity. Here. Let me show you."
"That was my inspiration for my story and I started writing."
Mark and I stood there spellbound.
He continued. "Then the curtain lifts with the rush of Niagra. The music moves, filling the openness with consoling tones, a melody of the woods twirling ribbons of wind and gently, the dance begins."
"A perfect description," I said. "That is what I feel when I watch our daughter dance."
I turned to the man who had been quietly sitting there this whole time and asked, "Are you his friend?"
"Every Saturday I come to the library and I kept seeing this man with his card table selling his books. The first time it was bitter cold and he was here for hours. The next Saturday the same thing, and the next and the next. Finally I walked over to talk to him and I've been keeping him company ever since. That was two years ago."
He reached into his wallet and pulled out a tattered photo. "See her? That's my daughter. She's four years old. I take her to dance every week. You and me are alike with our dancing girls. It's crazy, isn't it?"
We bought the book (as if there was ever any doubt) and bid farewell to this author and his companion.
"I don't know what to make of all that," Mark said as we walked down the steps,"except that I feel like crying."
Kindred spirits on the steps of the public library.
It was the most divine intervention.
***You can read more about Garrett Buhl Robinson here