I hope this note finds you well.
Throughout my life I have placed value on having a quiet place to sit and think. It started when I was a small child. My mother was the caregiver for our extended family; she was also an avid reader. Each week we made a trip to the little library in Augusta, Arkansas and she came home with a stack of books. One of the proudest moments of my young life was when I got my first library card. I can remember sitting in a small padded rocker in the hall of our house near the space heater and reading a Zane Grey book. Since that time, I have valued those quiet places where I could become absorbed in my thoughts.
During college, I lived in a small single-wide house trailer in the country about a mile from Arkansas State University in Jonesboro. Each morning, I got up at 5:30 AM, fixed my coffee and spent the next two hours in a wooden rocking chair. I had fashioned a study-board that balanced over the arms of the chair to hold my books and papers. Most days I was studying, but on occasion I would simply sit in my chair and watch the sun come up. I couldn’t think of a better way to start the day.
Fifty years ago, last fall, I started my career in medicine as a twenty-two-year-old freshman medical student. Going to medical school was a great adventure for me; I was doing what I really wanted to do. I clearly remember the cafeteria; it was a large cavernous room with small knots of students and families scattered throughout. Generally, I would make my way to the far corner of the hall and sit for an hour or two immersed in the universe of information that would be my life’s work.
In the last fifty years, I have lived in several locations. For the last thirty-five years, I have lived with a wonderful woman, Annette Enderlin, who shares my desire for a warm comfortable home. In addition to having a delightful green thumb, she has the touch of creating an inviting home full of love, animals, books, personal knickknacks, soft calming colors and a quiet place to sit and think. She also indulges me with my most comfortable, if not stylish, recliner. Each morning, the cats and I get up, they eat a bite and then go outside. For the next couple of hours, I immerse myself in thought. I still can’t think of a better way to start the day.
As I age, I seem to be going full circle. Since my retirement from the active practice of medicine, I drive from Hot Springs to Benton each day to have lunch with my friends. I have arranged my schedule so that I get into town by 10:30 AM and go to the Saline County Library. In the back of the stacks they have a series of cloistered areas with comfortable seating. That’s where you can find me most days.
Have a good journey,
Dr. Sam Taggart is a retired doctor/ writer/ marathon runner in practice in Benton for the last 35 years. He recently published The Public’s Health: A narrative history of health and disease in Arkansas, published by the Arkansas Times. His two other books, With a Heavy Heart and We All Hear Voices are available at your local booksellers or online at Amazon.com.