Monday, August 3, 2015

On The Bridges Built by Books

I love books so much, I made one for my daughter's b-day.
The bookstore provides the deepest sense of peace. It's evidence of our collective evolution, tangible proof we are thinking, challenging each other, creating new stories, reflecting back the world in unique and changing ways. Magazines excite me the most because their rate of development functions like a barometer of our cultural mindset, and their multi-authored nature makes them a vehicle for giving voice to many people at once. However, there is nothing quite so grounding for me as the weight of a hard cover book in my hands.

In either case, the best medicine for me is found within the stands. My heart rate slows; and suddenly I'm content drinking healthy herbal teas, deliberately choosing them instead of my otherwise beloved cocktail of liquefied sugar, dye, phosphoric acid and caffeine. That's why I studied journalism really. I wanted to help moderately depressed and anxiety addled people relax with some tea. My words would be the key to that. Maybe.

I remember when I realized the power magazines had on me. I was not in a bookstore then, but rather my high school's library. I picked up a copy of Utne and suddenly felt a little less alone, a little more worthwhile. After that, there was Walden Books, where I passed hours fantasizing about the contents of my book shelf. While other girls dreamed up their marriage proposals and prom dresses, I crafted a perfect mental picture of authors and titles lined up artfully on deep mahogany shelves.

Later, when I was still not so interested in marriage but had embraced my sexual curiosity, I made a meditation of waiting for the aisles to clear. I would quickly swipe the most sordid selections I could find and diplomatically read about cunnilingus and fellatio, the cover of my borrowed books pressed down tight against the table tops at Barnes & Noble, hiding my natural sin.

Decades before the most recent psychedelic stigmas began to shift, I had already endured years of soul bearing journeys and mind-bending trips all thanks to writers alone. By invoking empathy and compassion for a multitude of people, cultures and ideas, the best narrators broke open my world and held me captive for hours whether I was comfortably reclined on my sofa or perched awkwardly on a newsstand's dirty floor.

Some of the most powerful literary encounters have occurred when I was in holding—at doctor's offices, hospitals and all stripes of government institutions. The words are a way out and a way in, a bridge to better things.

Today, I'm feeling burdened by my financial and cosmic debt. However, instead of becoming further mired in that, I'm going to celebrate the power of literacy. Here are some powerful ways to get books into the lives of more people who need them.

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