Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Reminders of Who I Used to Be

Books, books...
I was raised on the notion that one should clean up their plate at dinner because there were people starving in China who were less fortunate. Naturally, being a kid, I thought, well, let's send it to them, because I'm ready for dessert! I internalized the same message about reading, i.e. don't start another book until you've finished the one you're on.

As a result,
I used to feel badly, almost a little guilty, about not reading right up to the very end. It was almost as though I'd made a deal with a book when I purchased it and was falling down on the job. And then, it occurred to me, some books are like some relationships, they aren't meant to last until the final chapter. It took me a long time to make peace with this, but I think I may have, at last.

Not that this is an earth-shaking revelation or anything, but it helps me reconcile myself to the fact that I've got several sitting on the shelf in various stages of completion. I'll run across them while dusting or looking for something else and remind myself to come back someday and "someday" never comes. Interests change, tastes alter, and what was intriguing once, is no longer.

It really is like dating. I've looked over annuals from graduate school, for example, and wondered, what did I ever see in her? Well, I must have seen something to make it worth a couple of movies, dinner, and an afternoon of miniature golf. But if I were in the same position today, I'd pass -- so would she, probably. At the time, however, it was a good idea and no regrets.

It's the same way with books. Some become old friends that you visit again and again, others are simply placeholders, there to keep the shelf from looking bare until you can bear to part with them. I tell myself they're good resources to hand along to patients or friends, but most of them never get beyond good intentions. So, on the shelf they sit, reminding me of the person I used to be.

Mm, put that way, it doesn't sound so bad at all.

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