Saturday, September 14, 2013

"I never guess. It is a shocking habit,—destructive to the logical faculty."

I'm sitting in my local library.  A marvelous place.  Things have changed in libraries over the years.  I remember visiting the library during the summer one year when I was probably about 9.  It was amazing.  All these books, and we could take anyone we liked?  More than one?  I picked out a Three Investigator's - "The Mystery of the Stuttering Parrot".  My father read it aloud - we were all fans of Jupiter Jones, Pete Crenshaw, and Bob.  Funny that I don't remember Bob's last name.  I keep wanting to write "Woodard"...

I don't think the library we visited was very big, kind of a small house that had book shelves in every room sort of thing.  The library I sit in now is huge.  There are still more books than movies or audio recordings, but most of the people here are using the computers or participating in activities ranging from simple paper crafts to learning English as a second (or ninth) language.  I remember people being surprised that you could get books on tape at a library.  Now there's a sign that says, "We still have thousands of titles available on VHS and audio cassette - ask at the desk".

"The Mystery of the Stuttering Parrot" was a wonderful book with a memorable cast of feathered characters.  "Too Too Too Be, or not Too Too Too Be.  That is the question."  Of course it was actually 222B and we were to "call on Sherlock Holmes."  Great stuff.  "Three Severns lead to 13."  Now that's new math.  But in the climactic scene?  It all made sense.

It was a great book, one that I remember to this day.  I got it at my first real experience with a public library (school libraries were different).  It set up a pattern that has sort of ruled my library experiences since - the shelves are filled with great books.  Too many to possibly read.  Every time I walk through a library I am taunted by possibility.  What's this one about?  Would that one be worth my time?  I've got three here, but that looks amazing, maybe I'll try it?  I wonder what that's about?  You get the idea.  Choosing a book is a microcosm of the choices we make in life.  Each choice takes away from the possible, sort of shuts a window on an opportunity.  I may only be able to get to three books, so each one I settle on means that's a slot I can't fill with something else.  In life it's the same - I'm only 22 once so I can go to college, raft down the amazon, try to become a movie star in LA, or ride my bike across the country.  Once I've picked one, the others aren't available anymore - maybe I'll get to them later, but at 23 I've got a whole new set of choices...

Picking out the books is a great exercise for being able to live - sort of like switching which leg you put into your pants first (something I've done since 6th grade just to prove that Mrs. Lawrence was wrong - she wasn't, by the way but I'm stubborn).  If I can't pick out my three, I'll get none.

Don't waste your life in indecision, pick something and do it or you'll wake up some day and say, "When did I become 80?  I never even got a chance to do anything."  Just remember, as you're making your choices, there are really big snakes in the Amazon and the fish will eat you.

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