Sometimes, you find a book. Sometimes, the book finds you. The Cabinet of Calm (Soothing Words for Troubled Times) by Paul Anthony Jones is one of those books. I can’t even recall when or where I first saw it mentioned but since buying it in January, it has been a constant, regular reading text for the last seven months.
I don’t think I’ve ever read a book so slowly, over so many months. It’s unlike me. But with each chapter, arranged alphabetically, focused on a single word — some lost to time, some whose meanings have changed — about surfacing through hardship or finding a path forward or becoming inspired, I didn’t want to rush the book.
So I didn’t.
Instead, I wrote small poems after reading nearly every chapter on nearly ever word from January through July. I found Jones’ explorations of words inspiring, and with my starting of the reading of the book in the depths of the Pandemic (January) and moving through the possibility of better and more normal times (vaccines), I kept returning to the book, finding new ways to think about how words and language can give us some comfort.
This back and forth between reading and then writing became a ritual of sorts, although I didn’t do it every day and sometimes, the book was just sitting on my counter, untouched, for stretches of time. Paul Anthony Jones has the ability to sift through language, and cultural meanings, and his curation of these words in this bound “cabinet” is something I intend to come back to when I need to.
Another day, I will share out my entire collection of poems inspired by The Cabinet of Calm. Until then … read on, and find your own ways to comfort the anxieties and inner voices of the Modern Age. Maybe a word inside the cabinet might help you, too.
Peace (gathering it up),