Library of Lightness

I used to sit in the self help aisle, just hoping that some of the information would seep into my head without my having to be conscious of it. As many hours as I’ve spent on the floor in the bookstore, I could have read half the books whose covers I memorized trying to find something. Trying to find… something.

I started buying books when I started reading. I started reading when I was 14. When I was 14, I touched a woman for the first time. A girl, actually. I stopped reading when I was 18 because life was too much for me and my head couldn’t fit anymore stories. I never stopped buying books.

I moved an average of twice a year for the next five years and I took all my books with me until I had begun something of a library of burden. I met a woman who said that I shouldn’t buy any more books when I had so many books still to read. I agreed. She wasn’t right though, because as much as the reading grows me… it’s the accumulation of books that slows me down enough to breathe. In old books, you can sometimes find old bookmarks, and it changes me every time to see where someone started something, and then stopped trying.

I’ve been asking myself unanswerable questions for the longest time, just hoping that somewhere in the mystery of it all, the pages fill in with words and I’m not just speaking, but heard. I’ve started reading again, and I’m back to buying books. I count my days a loss when I haven’t learned, and I learn plenty from thumbing through a hundred titles on a day when I didn’t bring any money to pay for the books anyway. My library has ceased to be a burden. Even when it’s all packed up into five heavy boxes, I carry them with ease and grace. It’s worth it to keep them with me place to place.

You are all books and bicycles and beauty. You are not like reading, though. You are like buying books. Because life, when spent with you, is not just one story. It is all the stories. It’s every story, all one-on-top-of-the-other, stacked like books on the brimming shelves of a used bookstore, barely readable in the present state. Life with you is the pursuit of knowledge. It is not, however, the act of knowing. It is something much more important than the act of knowing. Because life, when it is spent next to you, is not parallel but shared. Because you don’t give, you provide. You care.

I sat in the self help aisle yesterday to reminisce. It occurs to me that I only value things nostalgically. I leaned against the opposite shelf and thought about the oxymoron that is “self help” and when I knocked a book off the shelf behind me, I found philosophy. I know I have plenty to read, but I carried a backpack full of books with me around all day, and the act of the buying of the books…
I love you that same way.

Ashley Wylde
May 28th, 2015

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