The Library

Stepping into a library is like stepping back in time. There is a strange and strong sense that this whole system is arcane and unnecessary in today’s high-tech information age. And yet there is something sweet, innocent, almost magical about walking through those doors and being greeted by the sight and smell of rows upon rows of old, dewey-decimaled books. One almost expects to turn a corner and be greeted by “The Pagemaster” himself.

I was always in love with the library as a child – where countless volumes of stories and pictures and even films were available for anyone to borrow and return on the honor system! The only cost of taking armloads home with you was the responsibility to bring them back on time. But even this was negotiable. If you didn’t really want to return your new treasure just yet, you could call and let them know you’d like to keep it a little longer. No problem. Being given a library card was like being given the keys to a whole new world of possibility. One full of unknowns and mystery and knowledge.

But somehow, as I grew up and the world grew around me, I forgot. I left college, started work, started a family, got a smart phone with access to ALL information ALL the time . . . and I forgot. I had not stepped through the doors of a library in over 7 years! Until . . .

I rediscovered the unquenchable thirst of a child who LOVES to read. My son, who turns three next week, cannot possibly get his hands on enough stories and would sit and be read to all day if the adults in his life would just cooperate! I’m not sure how I made it 3 years before finally taking him to this magical place of my youth, but when I finally did, I saw the same wonder and fire in his eyes that used to exist in mine. Perhaps he’s reignited it. As I watched him run from one shelf to the next and excitedly uncover stories both familiar and foreign, fiction and non, and immediately plop down on the floor where he found them and ask, “Will you read dis to me?” I couldn’t help but be inspired.

And, as the rain flooded the world outside, my little boy and I sat on the floor of the library and traveled to far off places, experienced different times, and believed the impossible. 16 books and 2 hours later, we walked out with a brand new key to this kingdom of books and a deep knowledge that it would not be so long before I came back the next time. With my son’s new-found passion, and mine rediscovered, I knew . . . information age or not, there’s nothing that can replace good, old-fashioned books or the house that holds them sacred and keeps them safe.

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Legacy

In the face of the loss of someone so great as Steve Jobs – someone who, with little formal education, completely changed the entire world, not just in terms of technology, but in terms of ideas and inspiration – I cannot help but think about legacy.  What does it mean to leave a legacy?  What will ours be?  Obviously we can’t all have the incredible impact of people like Steve Jobs, but the important question is, will we have AN impact?  Will we leave the world better than we found it?  Have we loved with such inspiring sincerity that the objects of that love are forever changed, and moved, in turn, to love as they were loved?  Does what we write inspire those who read it to lead better, more positive lives?  Will our children rise up and call us blessed?  Will the art that we leave behind us embody our souls for future generations?  All of these are the legacy I hope to leave.  Today I am inspired to keep at it.

Technological Sabbath

I have been seriously considering, as of late, implementing a regular technological sabbath for myself. A day of rest from the myriad of devices that connect us to everything under the sun. From what’s important to what’s completely irrelevant. From the beautiful to the terrible – the heroic to the mundane. We, more than any previous generation, have the world at our fingertips with all of its woes and inspirations, and the weight of it is immense. The burden of knowledge is great and the guilt of inability, although unjustified, can be just as great. We have computers in our pockets that can show us real-time video footage of the most recent natural disaster, civil war, or peace rally. They can look up, at our first thought of curiosity, the answer to any question, and yet we still feel confused. And even with such powerful tools always at our disposal to advance knowledge and personal development, we spend a huge portion of our time using them for frivolous and meaningless tasks like surfing the web, watching YouTube, playing Angry Birds, or browsing Facebook to keep up with our “friends.” If ever we find ourselves with a spare moment of quiet or stillness, out come the phones. Walk around in a public place and notice how many people around you are staring at a screen.

Don’t get me wrong – I love technology. It’s value is immeasurable and it is shaping the world today in ways many never dreamed possible. I just worry that we are attaining its prize at a rather high price. The loss of quiet contemplation and meditation. The inability to experience stillness without trying to fill it. The physical and mental release of curling up in a big chair with an actual book or crochet hook or guitar. Embarking on projects with our families that involve rakes and shovels or paints and brushes instead of remotes and ear buds. Hiking or biking without music or podcasts and simply our own thoughts to keep us company. But, as I contemplate all of this, the devil on my shoulder says, “Yes, those things are all very whimsical and beautiful, but every week? For a whole day? I don’t know. What if someone needs to get a hold of me? What if I need directions somewhere? What if . . . the world stops if I don’t pick up my phone or laptop multiple times a day?!?” My fear wreaks of addiction. There are so many ways to fill a day without the need for buttons. And I really believe I’d be happier if I set one day aside to shut down, breathe, and . . . reboot.

What do you think? Can it be done? Would you do it?