Hibernation

You may have noticed a distinct lack of posts over the previous month.  The fact is that I have been extremely busy with work; many late nights and early mornings.  The little free time remaining then goes to my family and marathon training.  The hierarchy of priorities in practice.

While I’m a little disappointed that I won’t reach my goal of posting every week this year, I am happy to have been able to write as much as I have, and to have had such a great response.

This time off has given me time to examine what I am trying to accomplish here.  The website has been a great outlet for me however I have decided that I am going to take a step back. I’m not going to stop posting entirely; just posting less.

I have a couple of projects lined up for the new year that I probably would have started already had I not been working to meet my publishing schedule.  The weekly practice has been excellent but it is time to create something… bigger.

Thank you everyone for reading and your support.  While I will be posting less it is in favor of bigger and better things.  And when those are ready you will all be the first to know.

Pick Up The Phone

If you want to get something done – you need to pick up the phone.

Sending text messages or emails to make something happen is a delaying tactic that I realize I’ve used for years. You need to do something so you send a message, thereby creating the illusion of progress. But in actuality you are putting off the hard choice or difficult decision.

The message you sent will end up bouncing back and forth in the ether and the result you are looking for will take days to accomplish, rather than minutes.

People respond well to one on one interactions. The result of our ever-connected society is that we are less connected than ever. A voice on the other end of the line is a welcome respite to the pile of emails and messages we now deal with on a daily basis.

A phone call also pushes your agenda to the top of the pile, as it can’t be ignored or delayed like an email can. They either answer or they don’t.

Emails are great for solidifying what was discussed on the phone and for sharing information, but when you need something done it is time to pick up the phone.

Pages of Promise

With an hour to kill the other day I went in to a Barnes and Noble and just browsed through.  I walked each row, waiting for something to jump out at me.  While there were many books I would gladly take home, I left empty handed but satisfied.

New bookstores are great; with their targeted displays, bright lights, comfy chairs and coffee.  But even better is libraries and second hand bookstores.  The books there have more character; more gravitas.  They have been read by hundreds of people and are worn with dogeared corners and marginalia that is often indecipherable.  The people who work at these places are true lovers of books, more often than not found behind their desk nose deep in one.  Ask for a recommendation and their eyes light up as they encounter a kindred spirit.

And it is in these musty old bookstores that the magical possibility remains, of finding a treasure; some forgotten tome yielding incredible powers.  At least that is what I imagined as a kid…

My love of books and bookstores began very early, with my parents.  I was read to as a child, as I read to my kids today.  As I got older the library served as my internet and I would check out a big stack each week; a mix of science fiction and reference.  Some days I would sit at the library and read a full book before taking the rest home on my bike.

My Grandfather was also a bigtime reader of spy and thriller novels, with a large collection housed in a beautiful built in bookshelf.  I would spend Sunday afternoons with him; first mowing the lawn ($5.00!), then doing some woodworking.  Next, we would have lunch and play a few rounds of solitaire. Finally, I would choose a book from his collection for the week.  It was here that I discovered Trevanian and Ludlum, and had read the entire Bourne trilogy twice by the time I was fourteen.

Then there are found books; those books discovered in the back of an airplane seat, or on a chair at the bus stop.  I have left books in these places myself and know that they are not forgotten items, but gifts left by fellow travelers for the next reader.  I actually just found one at a heliport I flew out of – An Officers Duty by Jean Johnson –  and it was excellent.

Working at sea also encourages a lot of reading, especially in the days before ready access to TV or internet that now provides “quality of life”.  The readers would bring four to six books each trip – leaving them in the communal ships library when done.  You read it, then pass it along and take a new one.  The Seafarers Mission would also provide books to sailors free of charge, showing up at the gangway with a box brimming with the promise of adventure.

Stopping at bookstores in different countries was a magical experience.  I’ve purchased books from all over the world; both from famous bookstores and from tiny hole in the wall shops.  I began doing yoga as a result of a how-to book purchased in Bermuda.  I purchased The Moviegoer in New Orleans at a store located at the former residence of William Faulkner.  Everywhere you go, there will be something for you.

When the kindle arrived on the scene it was truly revolutionary.  Now I could travel with as many books as I wanted, minus the added weight in my luggage.  I read almost exclusively on my iPad for years to follow.  But recently I began to take note of a change in reading culture.  Ships no longer have well stocked libraries and the joy of discovering an excellent book totally by chance began to disappear; now you just dial up exactly what you want, when you want it.  In January I began my 12 Months of Modernism reading program for the year and had decided to read hardcopies, which was the best decision I could have made.  It has got me back into the bookstores and the dwindling culture of readers of the paperback novel.

There are still treasures to be found out there but you need to get out and look.  Maybe there will be a resurgence and paperback books will become ironically cool again, much like kids listening to vinyl.  But to me, a life spent with a nose in books is a life well lived, and there is nothing like walking into a store with books stacked to the ceiling, brimming with pages of promise.