Today my previous post on my obsession, passion or infatuation with books as an example of how difficult it can be to move towards moderation continues to whirl around in my head. I feel I want to say more. I could talk about books forever; I could talk about my favorite bookstores or about some of the old books I have started to collect or the books I have collected in my travels or about the books that I have kept since I was a kid. The thought I want to pull out of yesterday’s post and explore a little bit more is the idea of moderating our need for more and more information or put another way my continual quest for knowledge.
I started my day by going to the library to pick up those books that I put on hold yesterday. See how easy it is to have books available without buying them? I am talking to myself of course. Anyway as I approached the library I noticed that there were more people standing around outside than there should be normally. My fear was confirmed as I heard the voice on a loudspeaker informing the assembled group that they would have to wait for a while before they could re-enter the building. This more than concerned me, what if I could not get my books? I asked the first person that I reached whether the library was actually closed and was thrilled to hear that it was still open and that the people standing there were enjoying a reprieve from their desks. They were enjoying being outside for the fire drill for the office building attached to the library. Joyfully, I continued into the library where I picked up my six books.
Now let me tell you about these books. I am not writing a research paper or planning for a good read of fiction at a little hideaway. No, this is just general interest. I had picked up six books on three very diverse topics, all nonfiction of course. Two of them are historical, outlining the “golden age of Islam” a five hundred year period between about 700 and 1200. Three others talk about the life, times and visions of Hildegard of Bingen, a mystic. The last one is the first memoir of Eli Wiesel, whom I am fascinated with after reading his trilogy: Night, Dawn, and Day. Seem to be very different yet in my brain they are all connected and important to my pursuit of understanding and insight.
However when will I read all six of these books and why do I need to read them? I am curious and interested in many things and therefore want to learn more and more. This is where I get to the part of the never-ending quest for knowledge and the need for moderation. How much information do we need to feel knowledgeable?
I call it curiosity but is it really that or is it never being satisfied with one’s present state of knowledge. I think it is both and although there is always room for moderation I believe that a healthy state of curiosity is good for the soul.
I will pay attention to my obsession with books and try to be moderate. I will continue to use the library, I will share books that I have found interesting and helpful, I will not go into too many bookstores, I will talk to my friends about setting up a book exchange and I will donate some of my books that I no longer need to organizations that have a use for them.
I want to end this piece reinforcing the magical quality of books that we must not lose with any efforts to be reasonable in our acquisitive behaviour. Books have been like good friends. I have found many a good book that speaks volumes to me. I have experienced many magical moments in my extended relationship with books. I might be passing a book shelf when suddenly I am drawn to a book that I forgot I even had or in a bookstore when I reach for a book I have never seen before. I take it off the shelf and it happens to fall open at some random place in the book. I have a look at that page and find that the content is exactly what I need to answer the questions rattling around my brain. Often when puzzled or confused about the direction I am headed towards in some area of my life books have rescued me by pointing out the path I could follow. I have learned so much from books and I am not about to stop.