The Wandering Scientist

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Dear x

Written: April 26, 2011

About: a book

dear x
i love you
y

The words appeared on a small slip of weathered paper, neatly torn from a larger sheet, and tucked away between the pages of a book I am reading. They weren’t addressed to me. An old love note in an old book. A tender moment lost in a time long past.

The discovery made me stop and pace around the room for a while. Such simple words. So filled with honesty and truthful desire. Gentle care had gone into so carefully separating the little piece of paper, deliberately inking the words, and inserting the note between the pages of a book shared.

I readily admit my love for words, and this loves frequently leads me to use too many of them. I often put great effort into describing things and emotions effusively and at length, with detours and side stories, always hunting for the perfect metaphor, that unique angle, that awe-inspiring perspective that will strike the reader with its brilliance. Perhaps, too often, too much effort. I am struck by the beauty and the elegance of expression that is so brief yet so potent. That which is true needs no embellishment.

Our paths seem to be littered with mementos of great passions. Not always the positive ones. This admission comes on the heels of another recent find of mine, a sorrowful lover’s letter. Anger rarely leaves anything quite so coherent; its memories come in shards and scars, but no less evocative. Or perhaps a variation on the classic, something along the lines of “D + S = forever 1987,” scrawled into a sidewalk.

It doesn’t take much to reconnect with those emotions, even if they are not yours. If our own lives have such artifacts throughout, imagine the thick layers of memories wrapped around our cities, where generations of millions of people have loved and suffered and remembered. And then imagine all the moments that didn’t leave a trace.

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