Miscellaneous Thoughts on Books and Boxes and Boxes of Books.
During the last week I have been moving…home and office…and experiencing various degrees of displacement. I often think that our [human beings] location in the world…that physical place we reside…defines much of who we are. If we choose to stay in one particular place, a certain apartment, a certain house, a certain suburb or city, it’s because we find it comfortable to do so. This does not mean we are comfortable in that place. Nor does it mean we are happy there.
Observation of people around me indicates that for the most part we are creatures of habit– prefering to ‘make do’ despite the ability to ‘make change.’ Hence, we allow ourselve to become part of the overall landscape of the place we are in, slowly losing the ability to uproot ourselves and make positive changes in our lives; relocate to a more prosperous place, exploring options that beckon us in our dreams, prefering, instead, to settle in, allowing life to ‘happen’ all around us, but not within us.
Moving from a small ranch home, where my office took up the back bedroom and my fiance’s office took up the dining room, to a house where we have office space totally separate from the living areas of the house, was our attempt to uproot ourselves from a comfortable existence that was becoming slightly moldy. Certainly, we recognized that we could not continue to exist in that cramped space we had overfilled with file cabinets and bookcases.
It was the bookcases, finally, that convinced us we needed to move. They were threatening to devour the file cabinets, the desks, the rugs– overflowing into the living room and basement, threatening to qualify us for the Guiness Book of World Records as “the couple that disappeared into their vast, unchartered library.”
The move was not pleasant. It didn’t merely rain, it poured! The grown children participated reluctantly and, in the end, banded together to inform us that the next time we move, they are staging a Fahrenheit 451 on the front lawn. The books, they declared, would make a nice bonfire!
The thought of giving up even one book apalled us so greatly we could do little more than stare at these strange creatures we used to call our children, wondering who, really, had spawned them?
Books are the places we escape to…those otherworld universes that deport us to places we cannot reach by car or bike or foot. Between the two of us, my fiance and I have a full library, of sorts. Books on knowledge management, on law, on writing, on business, sales, marketing, children’s literature. We have bookcases of classics, bookscases of popular fiction writers, bookcases of reference materials. And, as I write this, there are more books winging their way to us through the U.S. postal service.
While the books, and their preservation, were a prime reason for our move (we wanted more space for more books, you see, not necessarily more space for ourselves, although the two are not mutually exclusive), the move itself was to suck us out of the comfortable place we were slowly sinking into, in the other house. We had great need for progress. The kind of progress in life and in work that only comes with physical change; a new mindset, a new thought process, a review of who we are and where we are going.
That we guarded the carting of the books more closely than the furniture, the kitchen utensils or the knick-knacks, is testament to our commitment to their value in our lives. Our books are part and parcel of our collected beings. They represent the knowledge of who we are; sum and substance of our need to learn, to motivate ourselves to achieve, to connect with other human beings via words; words meant to convey something unique to each pair of eyeballs reading them.
And, that, in a sentence, is the moral of the story. In order to be unique, to offer the world some measure of difference, one needs to learn the art of change; the art of reinvention; to enter the Twilight Zone and make it your own. To embrace change as a goal, change from home to home, office to office, city to city, country to country, skill to skill, is to evolve and morph beyond the essence of plots or themes created in books written in the last century or the last millennium. It’s the continuing evolution of the human condition that begins in the womb when your mother or father reads aloud from Dr. Seuss, Stuart Little, or Charlotte’s Web, thus exposing you to ideas and realms that become a sort of Twilight Zone, until you learn to make sense of them. It should continue for a lifetime, this eagerness to read and learn and embrace opportunity, because without books, humanity becomes little more than perfecting survival skills.
Let’s hear it for boxes of books and welcoming change in the Twilight Zone.
Even in the rain.