Finding the right book can offer clarity, fresh air

At first, nobody wanted to be a number – a known quantity, a kind of widget interchangeable with every other widget-human on the planet.

Next came the fear of being a statistic, which brought with it the shadow of the grim reaper. If being a number meant being depersonalized, being a statistic meant being dead – and not gratefully so.

Now we live in the virtual shadow cast by the algorithm, a mathematical formula and researcher’s that only adds a tighter set of specs to the suffocating feeling of predictability.

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In the face of all this, I recently felt the giddy, heady and joyful feeling that I’d somehow been freed from beneath the crush of numbers and taken a fresh breath that brought me back to full consciousness.

It was as though Gandalf had walked out of Middle Earth, waved his wand, obliterated the numbers and said, in his knowing way, “Yes, the power of magic is still alive in the Middle West, too.”

The feeling came with my discovery of a new book. Well, the book was used but new to me.

I came across it not in an online search, but in the old fashioned way, by blindly stumbling across it on a shelf of used books. Later I would wonder whether it somehow had been left there just for me, just as I was approaching my 63rd birthday, and just as my mind was making the transition from the full time workaday world to one that allows time and space for a wider look around.

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Way too out there for the Oprah book list, it’s more the kind of book Sheldon Cooper of “The Big Bang Theory” would give a four galaxy rating in his list of books “How to get in touch with your inner Geek.”

If the book’s subtitle title served as bait for me, the author’s introduction set the hook.

At first, it wasn’t so much the subject matter as…

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