Dreaming about having occupies a good deal of time in most people’s lives. Even the most humble individual wants something. World peace or maybe just a fair shot for everybody. The rest of us aspire to humility and a peaceful planet, too, but beyond being another member of the “We Are the World” chorus, what we really also desire is something or someone to call our own. Cars are big on wish lists; so are things like owning a home, falling in love, having kids, big career, and lots of pocket change. So, like most Americans, I shamelessly pursued my constitutional happiness and here’s what scored high marks on my self-o-meter.
I have dreamed of being surrounded by books, a collection of my life’s readings. None of the books would be pristine. They couldn’t be, because a loved book knows my hand sweat and endures my corner creasing, side notes and spine bending habits. The Dewey Decimal System just wouldn’t factor in. Dr. Seuss and Tolstoy might share the same shelf for all I care and I guarantee you that neither of them would care. Books only want to be read. None have ever begged to be alphabetized.
The library I lust for has thick, dark wood doors that hush the noise and whisper “I know you”. Shelves would be deep and oiled and the very un-library like chairs would be fat and round with special pillows designed for heads that often droop around Chapter 4 toward sleep. Ginger tea would be in a hot pot close at hand. I’d especially like floor-to-ceiling, sideways-rolling ladders to get to the highest shelves and occasionally would charge kids a nickel just to ride them. If I was still a kid, I’d pay.
The most important consideration of all, of course, are the books themselves--the words of others that might be mine. For these, I would be very particular. Before any book could be placed properly in this library, it would first pass through my hands by way of my heart. No acquaintances in here, only long time friends, some more useful than others, but friends all the same. I would have to know them all and judge none of them, and, by the marks I leave on them, they would know me.
I don’t have this library of dreams. I’ve loved and lost and found books, again and again, all through my reading life. The trappings now seem secondary compared to the deliverance I found in those pages.