Today, I will write for me…and it will mean something to you. Because when we look within, we find the common ground between us. As I disclose and confess my human frailties, errors and insecurities, you acknowledge your own (perhaps). Even if they are not exactly the same. You may call them different names or forms but we all have faults, shame and remorse, if we own a conscience. The open communication between the writer and reader connects and may even bond. As I reveal and discuss my human dreams, hopes and gratitude, you match the positive perspective with your own. This shared outlook then encourages us both. As I relate and divulge with frankness, depth and raw emotion, we become intimate, you and I, the reader and the writer. We are one encapsulated in the same thought, only distanced by time. Yet we are on a one to one basis, at the moment you enter the written word. We delve into the spiritual realm we seek with beliefs that complete us, we traipse through fictitious stories that enchant us, teach us and envelop us, we learn a thing or two and we mutually gain access to a moment in time, that exists every time you pick up a book and start to read.
This is why I love and adore libraries. Libraries hold trillions of words, bound by titles in book form. A library contains stories, essays, musings… the world of fiction and non-fiction! A library contains blood and guts and souls pouring out onto the page! A library contains an art form and its preciousness does not go unnoticed by enemies that have destroyed massive amounts of historical and original works just to trample their foe. They are petite shelves or stacks of condensed ideas housed in hallowed gathering places for any class of citizen.
Libraries have a sacred smell, a sacred sound and a sacred ambiance. When I walk by a wall of books, I smell the scent and allure of mystery, intrigue and answers. I listen to the silence and can hear people thinking, contemplating, reading, absorbing, feeling and learning. The next time you step into a lending library, think about all the people who wrote for you to express themselves, that want to pass on their life, their words, their creative angst and their truth to you.
Libraries are a sanctuary. Even at home, my shelves hold promise and journeys within the confines of small three dimensional rectangles. There are books that have changed my life, that have added and heightened my awareness, that have stretched my mind. There are tomes I read over and over because I find something new every time. There are favorites and classics, tiny treasures and huge undertakings but they all have something to offer… the human touch.
Every book has a tone, a style and a message. If it doesn’t, I move on. Most books fall into my hands or are suggested at just the right time. Right now, in December, I am reading a book I found at the used book store in the Arrowhead Library and purchased for $1. It is priceless to me. I repeatedly told my walking buddy about it for @ two weeks. I walked into the little store and almost collapsed when I saw it on the shelf. I don’t know why I even mentioned or remembered it in the first place on our walks but there it was – staring me in the face as if it was a glowing 48 inch TV. It is a 4 X 7 inch paperback and I was floored! I always ask guidance for just the right read when I walk into a library or bookstore but this was way too spot on for it just to be coincidence. I am relishing re-reading it! It is The Chosen by Chaim Potok written in 1967. It was re-printed in 1982 and I read it then for the first time because my college roommate encouraged me to. I proceeded to read everything Chaim Potok ever wrote after this within a span of one year. And then… I didn’t think about it, not really consciously, for over thirty years until something on our walks, twice, made me recall it. Crazy, right?
The other book I am studying and admiring as I read is Hemingway’s post humous production called A Moveable Feast. I truly in my innocence thought it was about food. I read A Moveable Feast, a collection of stories by chefs, not too long ago because I wanted to read Hemingway and got side tracked into reading it by this modern theft of a title somehow between a kindle and a library. This time I downloaded a sample of the REAL title onto my kindle, read three pages and marched myself over to our teeny, tiny town library – which reminds me every time I walk in there of the one I grew up with before they built a ‘state of the art’ all glassed in library building on the corner of route 25A back in Kings Park, L.I., NY circa 1970, which is still standing. Alas, the original library with creaky, musty and uneven wooden floors was a storefront and the whole row of shops was torn down to widen route 25A. The size of our Villa Park, CA library is about the same square footage though and it remains a bibliophile’s camping adventure anytime we need one.
I searched the classics and the regular fiction area and couldn’t locate it. They had The Sun Also Rises, A Farewell to Arms, For Whom the Bell Tolls and The Old Man and the Sea. All boring when I had to read them in high school, I preferred (and maybe still do – I don’t know – I will have to re -read them) the old black and white movies they made with Tyrone Power, Ava Gardener, etc. Then I squatted down to check out another author that caught my eye (probably and possibly Oscar Wilde) and spied the spine of a paperback copy of Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast clearly re-inserted into the wrong place on the shelves. A coincidence? I think not. I believe it was time for me to get my hands on this masterpiece. It’s not about food per se, but it does have a lot of food moments. A Moveable Feast, the title, is actually a Catholic reference and was given its moniker by his very Catholic last wife (Mary) who wanted his memoir of Paris in the Lost Age of the 1920’s to be published in his honor, after his death. Anything Parisian is a treat for me so it’s a little like reading the movie, Midnight in Paris by Woody Allen – I didn’t care for it much except for the literary figures in it and the Parisian setting, language and relevance. Now that I am older and hopefully wiser, I enjoy and respect Hemingway’s long but crisp descriptions, concise sentence structures and vivid dialogue.
The space, the energy and the slowing down of time I immediately sense – every time I am inside a library, holds me safely, reverently and closely, like a church or a temple. All I need is the waxy, smokey scent of candles burning for alms, the organ piping and the windows stained with colorful, dramatic story lines and I am in my Notre Dame of Cathedrals. Come join me, as we touch each other, whenever and wherever we read and write.