When I was a little girl, LIFE FELT HARD. I’m not going into the who, what, or why life felt hard, but just trust me, it did. So, one day, I decided to blow this popsicle stand, teach my family a REAL lesson, and run away from it all. I didn’t pack a little hobo sack, didn’t take any supplies or money, I just hopped on my most awesome hand-me-down green schwinn with the banana seat and pedaled to: My local library.
I was in kindergarten or first grade a the time, and my family was living on 77th avenue in Portland, Oregon. I arrived safely at the library, went into the children’s section, selected a stack of books, and spent the better part of the day lost in words and worlds. My mother was somewhat concerned, but as there were six of us, one often went missing for a few hours with no lasting ill effects. When she finally did begin to worry in earnest, she later told me that she has a strong impression that I was safe and at the library. Mom’s just know sh*t like that, ask my kids.
I am not exaggerating when I say: Throughout my 45 years on the planet, books have literally saved my life.
Is it any wonder that my joy in life comes from teaching kids to read? My students know my mantra is:
If you can read, you can survive.
I do NOT mean this in a figurative sense.
Received this from a student a few weeks ago. This is my heart, soul, joy, and life.
When life got too hard to bear, books allowed me a safe escape. While much of my upbringing was rigorously monitored by my devout LDS parents, for whatever reason, I was allowed to read WHAT EVER I WANTED!! I went through a Stephen King phase in sixth grade, and often stayed up into the wee hours of the morning being absolutely thrilled and mesmerized by his somewhat gruesome and illicit tales.
During my fifth grade year, I experienced Mildred Taylor’s, “Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry” and my life and attitudes toward race relations were forever changed.
I grew up in a white, suburb, homogenized neighborhood, and my circle of influence was even smaller than that, often limited to our LDS congregation. I received my undergrad at Brigham Young University, not exactly known for it’s diversity. I didn’t travel, my family didn’t take exotic vacations around the globe, and I didn’t have many life-experiences that encouraged self-exploration or exposure to thoughts and actions that were different from my own small existence.
Books allowed me a glimpse into the life of gay people, black people, asian people, atheists, geniuses, addicts, philosophers, hateful misogynists, angry feminists, non-angry feminists, doctors, experts, leaders, mythological and magical creatures and so much more.
Books about longevity such as Blue Zone Solution and healing mental illness through environmental and nutritional means, such as, The Ultra Mind Solution have put me on a path over the past year that have led to more JOY than I ever thought possible. These resources provided KNOWLEDGE, I provided some action, and we all know that combination is necessary for CHANGE.
I lived on myths and fairy tales as a child, and have instituted “Fairy Tale Friday” with my students.
A very smart man, (Albert Einstein) said, “If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be MORE intelligent, read them MORE fairy tales.”
I asked my students WHY Einstein would say such a thing? Why fairy tales? The consensus, it’s good to dream, it’s good to believe in magic, and it’s good to have a “moral of the story.” Cliff notes: Fairy Tales=good.
HOWEVER…Einstein, (again, pretty bright guy) also said THIS:
“Reading, after a certain age, diverts the mind too much from its creative pursuits. Any man who reads too much and uses his own brain too little falls into lazy habits of thinking.”
READING and contemplating Einstein’s latter quote, is what led me to start this site, to quit consuming quite so much, and begin producing. I never want to fall into lazy habits of thinking. My mind, heart and yea, even my ego rebel at the very thought.
This morning, I saw this graphic on a very wise woman’s facebook feed. (Facebook isn’t entirely evil, just mostly)
and it got me to thinking. Over the past year, I have given up all television and news. It is toxic for me, and not necessary for my growth and joy. I have many friends who disagree with my NEWS FREE choice. That is totally cool. They can do them, and I’m gonna do me. Early in my media purge, I attempted to listen to the PBS News Hour during my walks, and found it repetitive and toxic.
I challenge you to take a total news/media fast for ONE week. What will you do with the extra time and energy? You might be surprised that you’re not missing out on a dayum thing, and life is sweeter.
Excessive political and news consumption did not add joy to my existence, and in a cost/benefit analysis, it just had to go. Final note on this topic. If you’re really concerned about missing out, a great conversation starter: “what’s new in the world?” You will get more than you need or want to know in the course of five minutes.
Final FINAL note. For real this time. I have heard several people and authors for which I have mad respect for put forth the basic thought: YOU are the sum of the five people you spend the most time with. I would alter that slightly, YOU are the sum of five most dominant manners in which you choose to spend your time. Time is our most valuable commodity. So, do you spend it in bed with cheetos (baked of course), pink wine, red vines and Diet Dr. Thunder? Do you consume mindless television, worthless media, and toxic news? That’s your call. YOU DO YOU. But you will be the product of how you spend your time. And what goes into your brain, body, mind, and spirit, will be exactly what you put forth into the world.
Tim Ferris posted this very interesting blog post. Which includes photos of bookshelves of the rich and famous. OK, maybe not rich and famous, but at the very least, some interesting and innovative thinkers.
This inspired me to snap a few pics of MY books. I have a small space, so what I choose to fill said space with speaks volumes (see what I did there??!) of what I value. I have sold, donated, and recycled more pounds of books than I can remember. Yet there are always more coming in. So much to learn! Trying to find balance between consuming and producing. I also have cases of books in my small office at school, with a LARGE selection of award winners for my students to borrow and experience. These cases are not included in the pics! This is strictly in mi casa.
My friend Deb, in giving me relationship advice, has said something along these lines:
“If you’re dating someone new, check out his space. If there are NO BOOKS, get the F*ck out.”
I shall continue to read, while trying to find space for original thought. What does your bookshelf say about YOU?
Love and Light,