It’s time to say good-bye and hello…
As a child I remember hearing the song The Sidewalks of New York. A catchy little waltz capturing simpler times and youthful pursuits shared by children growing up in 1890's New York boroughs. The simple lilting tune sticks in my musical brain as do some of the lyrics, but what lingered with me more than anything was the phrase "tripped the light fantastic".
The use of the phrase itself dates back to Chaucer when the word ‘trip’ meant to dance nimbly rather than to fall over your own feet. Funny, how as a child I understood in those words that a reference was being made to dancing. Not just any dancing but a fantastic and nimble movement as pure and natural as grassy reeds bending and flowing with the wind.
‘Tripping fantastic’ is a wonderful analogy for how we can nimbly and with much enthusiasm, move through our lives when that is our choice. We can trip fantastically through every aspect of our lives; cooking, working, playing, creating, loving, praying, learning, reading, talking, performing - the list is infinite.
I have many interests, hobbies, pursuits if you will. I embrace and enjoy each one of them every day of my life, in varying degrees of intensity, but always tripping fantastically in my endeavors.
One such interest is books. Since childhood, all things bookish have been a constant in my life. My parents are avid readers, they had a record album (what we listened to in the dark ages before iTunes) called Music for Reading. I distinctly remember the album cover art, a woman comfortably sitting at her easy chair, head bent down fully focused on the pages of an open book – in reverent worship. Music intended to create a sacred space for indulging in a book. These are serious readers folks!
Our home was litter-aly lined with books. My dad continually on carpentry detail building another case to fit a specific corner in our house. Each case destined to hold the newest literary treasure, the latest collection of books. Mom was the purveyor and curator of our family collection. She felt strongly that books were meant to be read and re-read, time and time again. That being the plan, few books were ever relinquished. For another belief was that books were meant to be kept and cherished.
We had everything in the way of books - a set of encyclopedias, yearbooks, multiple Time/Life collections, dictionaries in various languages and at one point in excess of one dozen Bibles, each a different version. Our house could have served as a local lending library. It was AWESOME!!! Everyone should grow up that way.
It is this passion, this ink in the vein, this ex libris DNA gene ladder that has served to shape me as a person. From papyrus to kindle, I adore all things bookish - hardcovers, paperbacks, dust jackets, bookmarkers, book lights, special editions, abridged, unabridged, chapter books, picture books, books on tapes, book stores, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera - I thankfully blame my parents.
Throughout my childhood I was religiously taken to multiple public libraries. I played library with my friends (yep cataloging my books and using playing cards in envelopes for the checkout cards). I got my first library card at the age of six and as an adult served on multiple Friends of the Library boards, usually as – you guessed it – the Secretary. I’m bookishly hooked and in no way whatsoever interested in a 12 step program, however I’d like to see the book on that.
There is something about a book, have you noticed? The physical manifestation of a thought, a vision, an experience, committed to ink and paper and neatly wrapped in a binding. The way it feels as you hold it, how it smells when you open it, the texture of the paper as you turn the pages. And that’s just its physical presence. A book is magic, a way to travel to distant dimensions, a way to connect with others, a way to share.
The use of writing dates back to around 3000 B.C., books are slightly newer dating to about 2700 B.C. The ex libris DNA thing is no joke! Books are a part of us and will continue in one form or another until our species is gone from the planet.
We, the collective inhabitants of this miraculous planet, have a longstanding passionate relationship with books, as natural as grassy reeds bending and flowing with the wind. Moment by moment we “trip the Book fantastic” and isn’t it grand.
So, as I bid a fond farewell to 2011 and a hearty hello to 2012 I decided to start this blog, to dance, if you will through all things bookish. To Trip the Book Fantastic!!!
I hope you will join me with your comments and ideas.
Happy New Year!