Books as life rafts

A library in the middle of a community is a cross between an emergency exit, a life raft and a festival. They are cathedrals of the mind; hospitals of the soul; theme parks of the imagination. ~ Caitlin Moran

Forlorn and adrift on the sea of life; I flounder.

No longer daughter, mother, sister, granddaughter, daughter-in-law; my ego plunges into the classic existential crisis – if not that, then who is this ‘I’? The identities that gave the ego a firm structure where it could reside with comfort and confidence, vanish into the whirlpool of the relentless hunger of “life’s longing for itself”.

Stripped bare, languishing with the flow, the ego in abeyance, waiting, watching, wondering.

I recall the story told by Og Mandino. Reading books in a public library saved him. Homeless, destitute, and about to end his miserable life, he walked into a public library to pass some time before the gun shop next door opened. He sat and started to read, then came back the next day, and the next, turning his life around to become an author, speaker and motivator.

Lovers of books and reading know the power of the written word and that’s what keeps our noses inside books. But why are the words of others more influential than the words we might string together ourselves? They aren’t! The thing is that when we find ourselves in a state of despair or confusion, often due to circumstances not of our making (such as the death of a loved one, or two), then we might be incapable of making our mind do anything beyond grieve.

This is when the words of others offer a lifeline. Throw us a book and we will use it as a life raft. It doesn’t matter what book. Some might say it needs to be a religious book and that would be fine. But really, it could be anything. Works of fiction are perfect because they allow our mind to escape. It gives us a holiday from our own dismal and repetitive interior and whisks us away to another land and time.

As a long time reader of self-help books I can attest to the fact that this genre does not help at these fragile times.

As I steer my life raft to safer waters, these are the books that buoyed me over these past few months: 

*   A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle

*   Radical Forgiveness by Colin Tipping

*   The Gospel of Joy by Amanda Gore

*   Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer

*   Maya’s Notebook by Isabel Allende

 But really they could have been anything. I would have liked to have re-read Echoes of the Early Tides by Tony Moore but my copy is packed away in a box somewhere still. I am about to plunge into Under Magnolia by Frances Mayes.

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