The boy, too, had his book, and he had tried to read it during the first few days of the journey. But he found it much more interesting to observe the caravan and listen to the wind. As soon as he had learned to know his camel better, and to establish a relationship with him, he threw the book away.
from The Alchemist (a book!) by Paulo Coelho
I own hundreds of them, accumulated over the last forty years. So many about spiritual matters, lately focused on Buddhism. So many novels, lately focused on Stephen King. I do believe I have every book he’s published.
I’ve been more of a collector than a reader. It’s somehow comforting to see them sitting on the shelves of my bookcases. But sometimes I reflect on the fact that I’m 66 and that I’ll never read them all before I die.
I’ve taken thousands of quotations from the ones I have read, trying to hang on to the essence of what the author was telling me. I’ve created “Categories” of topics and have started arranging all the words into them, to create a power not possible from just a few isolated quotes. Trouble is, I virtually never wrote down who said what, so my ambition to publish all of this wisdom in several volumes seems thwarted by the illegality of it all. Guess I would be sued left, right and centre.
My latest plan is to complete the sorting into topics before I die, have the books published through Blurb, find 500 organizations that might find my work valuable, put the books in bubble wrappers, each addressed to one of those places, pay for all that postage … and put them in the basement. When I die, my executor would mail them all away, adding extra postage as needed.
I need to consult with a lawyer to see if my estate could be sued after the books are received. Oh my. I appear to be a very strange duck. But I don’t want decades of quotations that resonate with my Spirit to crumble into dust.
Still .. wait a minute. Wouldn’t it be a pretty major letting go if I dumped all my recipe cards of quotes and just trusted that the wisdom therein would reach humanity via another route? In the movie The Razor’s Edge, the character played by Bill Murray ends up at a Buddhist monastery in the Himalayas. The lama instructs him to walk up to a little hut amid the snows and to meditate there for some time. Our American friend takes a few of his treasured books, a couple of blankets and not much else. After a day or two, he’s getting pretty cold, and the scarce wood is all gone. In a moment of realization, he takes out one of the books and rips off page after page, dropping them into his little fire. Oh my again.
Now what, Bruce? I don’t know. There may be delivered books, a world of insights, and a world of lawsuits. Or perhaps all will be silence.