Over the years I have reflected on how reading and writing have been so central to who I am. I grew up around books, my parents and grandparents had a bookstore when Mother was pregnant with me (if my calculations are right). Anyway, I remember the store from when I was little and roaming up and down its aisles. Mother was an English teacher, Minnie always writing something, and bookcases lined every available wall in the houses I grew up in, as they do in my own home today. There was no such things as a “banned book” in our house. “Read it if you must” Mother would say but then she and I would talk about it; why had I wanted to read it, did I get anything out of it”? There was the library and the bookmobile that came down the street once every week or so. I always checked out the maximum number of books allowed. And, gifts from my parents and grandparents were often books…of course!
I had “diaries” when I was growing up. They were the little books with a lock and key and thin, tight lines. There wasn’t much room for reflection; usually only a listing of daily events. I wrote in notebooks over the years and collected pages of quotes, questions, poetry; things that whispered or screamed to me things like “pay attention” or “what does this mean?” Then there were times when a counselor or therapist “suggested” I write out the thoughts and feelings that were whirling around in my head and heart. It always seemed to help. In a previous life I worked as a counselor and found that sharing my experiences with both reading and writing often led others to find a path, a connection, or some clarity for their own journey.
And, so now I wonder how all of this has shaped me? Why do I so fondly (hard to believe) remember my freshman English class in high school where the final was a 15 question essay test on a short story? And, there were no right or wrong answers! Why do I have to mark up my books with my own thoughts, reflections or questions and why do I rarely leave home without my journal? Why are there books by the bedside table and on the floor by the couch? And, why do I love working in a bookstore? Because I know that my life has been profoundly shaped by reading and writing. And, now this romp into a blog…well, I’m curious to see what new nuance, wrinkle, or wiggle comes forth.