Going to bed last night I was still uncertain of what I’d write about today. I only had a clear feeling that it would come to me. Either in my dreams during the night, my meditation this morning, the Ted talks I watch while on the treadmill, or from the guiding voices in my mind. I woke up with no clear revelation from my dreams and the voices were all over the place… more inspiration for future articles, I thought gratefully. There was a theme in the cacophony of voices that jumbled my thoughts; a theme revolving around a desire to be understood, a desire to be heard without having to go out and sell myself or convince others to listen to what I had to say, a message that using my authentic voice would win what I desired. How to unify all this into the clear expression of my idea?
The first glimmer of it came from Susan Cain’s Ted Talk entitled “The Power of Introverts”. For those who don’t know her, Susan cain wrote a bestseller called “Quiet” that not only celebrated introverts, but gives us the power to let go of any perceived stigma of being solitary thinkers, instead of always being gregarious brainstormers. As this quick video played on, strong and surprising emotions washed over me, and indeed felt like they were actually washing and cleansing me. I thought: “Oh, my God, somebody finally understands me!” The cliché aside, I was filled with tears of joy and a sense of release. So, what do I do with this revelation? Other than read her book, which has now moved far up my To reRead list, that is. I needed some additional affirmation to inspire action, and she gave it to me.
In her talk, she explains how her family were all readers and thinkers, and that having towers of books around them was normal for her family. This brought me back to when I started to read, and then started to devour books, on average two a week. When I started earning money on my own, at least 50 percent was spent on books. By the time I was ready to move out of my parents home, I had accumulated a library of well over a thousand paperbacks and I would devour authors entire collections. While waiting for the next novel to be published from any of the authors I loved, I eagerly sought out different editions of the same titles. At one time, I had over twenty editions of The Hobbit, several in languages I didn’t yet speak, but loved to try and translate and compare with the English editions. The point is I had lots of well loved and leafed books; more books than anyone would really want to move from place to place.
I moved three times in less than 2 years, and when I moved to Spain to teach, I started to feel like I had too many books! This was the beginning of a temporary separation from being an avid reader and blissful introvert to being what I thought was wanted of me… an extrovert. I read less, drew less, painted less, went for fewer walks alone with my thoughts, and surrounded myself with others. I started listening to and then depending on external opinion to define myself. It never felt natural, but seemed to be what was needed to get anywhere. It didn’t get me where I wanted to be, and it distanced me from my true self so much that the road back has been long, hard, and filled with challenges and crises of faith. I’m not all the way back to that little introvert, but I now realize the journey has strengthened me immensely! I now embrace each new book I read like a long lost friend who is returning to me something I lost a long time ago. It is absolutely amazing.
I am deeply grateful for this journey I’m on, that is both taking me back to my true self, and forward to my true purpose. I am grateful for the lessons that remind me of what I have, what I love, and what I want. I appreciate what I had. I can visualize how it felt to be surrounded by so many beautiful words. I loved, love , and will always love books. They are part of who I am and always will be. So, what do I want? I want my library!
Ps: Here’s a little poem I wrote back when books were my most precious possessions. Amazingly, when I’m having an identity crisis, this poem pops up in my mind… I guess I should pay attention, don’t you think?
Comforts (Oct. 9th, 1989)
I knew an old imp who lived in an egg
He hobbled the streets cobbled on a wooden leg.
Go, he would, to the corner store
For what although, he was never quite sure.
He would bread and tea and cheese,
And conveniently forget the pepper which always made him sneeze.
Back to his house he would hobble,
Like a greying old grouse.
To put away his newly got buys,
In a pantry next to freshly baked pies.
And then, like an old tired hen,
He would quietly steal to his den.
with a teapot full of teas,
All brewing with graceful ease,
And a tobacco filled pipe,
Of the corncob type.
Near the fire he would aspire
To slip with particular care
Into his favourite and most comfortable chair.
For now he was in his nook
Reading his favourite book
Relaxed and pleased
All his senses appeased.
He would fall asleep
An dream of fluffy, white sheep.
by M. Perron