Friday, April 22, 2011

MY BOOKS…part 1

My original title for this post was...Friends between the covers...but the more I thought about can understand why I changed it.

I have a morning routine that I’ve maintained for over 30 years…with my first cup of coffee in hand I settle into a chair and spend the next ten to thirty minutes writing in my journal. With few exceptions this takes place in my study, and from where I sit I can look around and see my books, at least the ones that fill the spaces available to them in this room. An almost equal number are scattered throughout the rest of the house and my studio.

I have read about 75% of them from cover to cover, and some of them more than once. Of the remainder…I’ve read about half of them in part, and the rest sit there unread. After repeated admonishments to myself, I have actually started to send some of them to the donations box at the library, typically books that I have not read and see no prospect of ever doing so. Still, the act of removing them from the room was not without some anxiety.

My reading interests mirror my taste in music…very eclectic. On the very top shelves are the books that were so instrumental in enabling the difficult journey from medicine to art, and include poetry, biographies, journals and memoirs, and numerous volumes on psychology, religion, and philosophy. There is almost an entire shelf dedicated to Rilke, Merton, and Jung. Will I ever read them again? Maybe a little bit of some, but it is unlikely to be more than that. Will I give them to the library? Equally unlikely, I simply cannot imagine not having them there. They are important to me as old friends are, a constant reminder of the paths I have traveled. I expect most of them will be tossed, donated, or sold when my journey ends, which if fine with me, but until then they give me comfort and require nothing of me in exchange.

I can list among my friends, Carl Jung, Thomas Merton, Rainer Maria Rilke, Aldous Huxley, Elton Trueblood, John Sanford, Matthew Fox, Alan Watts, Elizabeth O’Connor, and May Sarton, all of whose words spoke to me at a time when I needed them most. Of course there were many others, too numerous to list here. These were books with words that provided comfort, encouragement, and direction, and were powerful enough to enable a life to change. Their physical presence continues to serve me, simply by being there.

Further down the wall my eyes encounter several shelves of art books, but that is fodder for another post.

1 comment:

Asphodel said...

I am very much the same way, I love my books and I love to be surrounded by them. Their visual effect alone can be stimulating for me. I am so happy that in setting up my writing/art studio I have been able to incorporate at least a portion of them. Just knowing they're at a hand's reach is somewhat of a comfort to me.

The place is wreck now, but I intend to tidy it up in a couple of weeks when I'm done working at the newspaper (for good this plan to record a video tour as I get familiar with my video camera.

Thanks for sharing your space :)