One of my favorite people carries a notebook.
At a snug southern restaurant, he took out the little spiral-bound reporter kind. At a snappy Japanese spot, it was that flappy, flexible type that lays flat when you run your hand down its spine.
When he takes it out, it’s usually with a “Huh,” or “Hmm,” like something new and lively was just handed to him. A smile is opening across his face. His eyes are clear and wide and curious.
Then he jots down the bits and pieces you say that have touched him, nodding here, hmmm-ing there. You could be 11 years younger than him or 33 years older. You could be talking about something he’s never laid eyes on or something he wrote the book on.
And this right here is why he’s one of my favorite people: the man is always learning. He seems to wake up and swing the door open to what the day – any mundane or high-octane part of it – can teach him.
Which means that of the forty-some years of his life, few have been spent in what Grace Paley called the slow-moving mainstream.
He can build boats and speak French, dissect legalese on seafood regulation, grill a mean shish kabob, bring together the minds and light up the wills to strengthen education for a seaside city, find a 25th hour of the day for what he believes in.
The two words I could never describe him with are inert and flat. He hasn’t settled, stayed put, or been particularly obedient to the conventions most people live by. I suspect he listens to the world and loves the world too much for that.
Once, I heard a writer say that what she didn’t know could fill 12 city buses, and say it like it was a limiting thing.
But for this man, it seems to be a thing that unlimits him, keeps his eyes clear and wide, his wonder refreshed.
And when I think about him, I think about a man who turns towards his day, saying, as only the greathearted can say: Hello, Life. What’ve you got? My notebook’s ready.