Then someone gave me a book*. It was a book I had heard of and always promised myself that one day I would read but never found the time. One thing I did have now was time, but for an hour or two, still feeling sorry for myself I doggedly refused to pick it up, determined to remain miserable. But when I did begin to read it, though with some difficulty - needing to hold the book above my eyes - my worst of days began to change, and so became my best of days. It was the opening words of Chapter 13 that did it -
"Sometimes a kind of glory lights up the mind of a man" and the irony was that this is what had happened to me; and the end of the final rivetting paragraph of that opening passage -
"and this I believe, that the free exploring mind of the individual human is the most valuable thing in the world, and this I would fight for..."
I read the poetry of those words over and over. At last I had found an author, though one who preferred to be called a writer, who spoke to me directly, in a language I understood and with whom I felt an affinity from that moment. An affinity that has grown down the years as I have explored his books, his films, his life story, his successes and, yes, his many failures too. I have been to his country, to his home and to his valley, and corresponded with his widow. This journey of exploration has been a delight and a joy to me and I will forever cherish the moment, and the day, my best day, when I met and made friends with the genius, John Steinbeck.
(*The book was 'East of Eden')