She had big aspirations in regards to books. There were so many books she wanted to read, but the problem was not enough time to read them. Even if it was her full time job to just read books, like someone decided to give her a generous salary and health insurance and a 401K just to read, there would never be enough time. Even if she never slept or ate, and spent every second of every day reading, there would not be enough time to read all the books she wanted to read, let alone all the books she might want to read, not even counting all the books she had no interest in reading at all. And what about all the great books that hadn’t been written yet? This desire to read became the seed for her obsession.
Despite the fact that some people considered the printed book irrelevant or obsolete in the digital age, and even if there was never another printing of another book ever again, there were just so many great books already. And while she didn’t necessarily want to read all of them, she did want to read many of them. So she made a habit of going into used book stores and buying books that she thought she might like to read. In this way she ended up buying way more books than she could ever possibly devour, no matter how many hours per day she spent, but she couldn’t stop herself from buying more. Eventually she conceded that she just liked having books more than actually reading them, and this realization caused her book purchasing to accelerate.
She began stacking them in her bedroom and guest room, and soon stacks lined the walls of the hallways. She started grouping them by subject and by spine color, and arranged the piles like some elaborate Tetris-inspired art installation. Then, after the stacks covered all the walls and stretched from floor to ceiling like paperback pillars, she started stacking her books in the shape of furniture. She made a reading chair out of books, and stacked books to make a little side table. She put a book and a reading lamp on her table made of books. She even made a bookshelf out of books, where she placed books that she still entertained the fantasy of reading, on shelves that allowed easy access instead of locked away in the literary architecture of her design. When the book towers in the hallway tumbled like dominoes and blocked access to the bathroom, the urgency of her bladder helped her recognize her own absurdity, triggering an epiphany. She decided then and there she had get all these books our of her house, and just like that the perfect idea appeared in her mind.
She carried the books outside and began stacking them, weaving the covers and pages of the books together to give the piles more stability. She constructed one wall, and then another, making eight walls altogether and forming a rough approximation of an octagon. She tapered the walls toward each other as they grew taller, so that eventually they met in the middle, forming an acute and precarious-looking roof, surprisingly stable despite using only gravity and the interlocking of the book pages to stay fastened together. She borrowed a ladder from her neighbor and stacked higher than seemed prudent, but the more books she plugged into her structure the more stable it became. Some called it a shrine, or a temple, or a library, or a fortress, or an eyesore. It was all these things to her, except for the eyesore part. She thought it was beautiful, a monument to books built out of books.
When she finally finished her structure to her liking she could think of nothing better to do than to sit down with one of her books and actually read it. And when she finished reading each subsequent book she added it the structure with pride, and once again felt inspired by just how wonderful books could be.
Tsundoku – Japanese (noun) – Leaving a book unread after buying it, typically piled up together with other unread books.
Number 3 of the Lost in Translation series
Spring Flowers in Orange, at the Ruth Bancroft Garden.
Posted for the DP Weekly Photo Challenge: Orange.
It started the moment he learned how to walk. Off he went in whatever direction he happened to be pointing, wearing nothing but diapers and a smile, and sometimes not even the diapers. It made no difference where he was going, just so long as he was going somewhere. Had his parents not started keeping him tethered on a modified leash he surely would have wandered away and ended up kidnapped or roadkilled or on the back of milk carton. This wanderlusting continued into childhood and beyond.
When he started school teachers called him energetic or a nomad or threatened to get out the duct tape when patience ran thin. Many made claims of ADHD. The truth was trying to stay seated was totally impossible for him, which made school equally impossible. He just wasn’t cut out for it, because he just couldn’t sit still. He grew tired of being a square peg in a world of round holes. When he turned fifteen he decided he couldn’t take it anymore, and he just started walking toward the south.
When folks saw him walking they had questions. Where was he going? And why? He didn’t know the answers to these questions. He was on a quest, a quest that he didn’t know where or why of. He felt like he would know where he was going when he got there, and as soon as he figured out the where he would know the why. Until then he kept walking.
People started feeding him and bringing him gifts. He garnered a reputation as the walking saint and his reputation preceded his path. He always had a dry place to stay and home cooked food to eat. He walked all the way through Mexico and into Central America. He crossed the Panama canal and kept going south. He eventually reached the southern tip of Tierra del Fuego, and he looked off the end of South America, over the icy waters stretching to Antarctica. It was breathtaking yes, but even this was not the where he imagined would stop him in his tracks. So he turned around and kept walking, to the North.
Almost two years after leaving he finally returned home, having walked thousands of miles and met thousands of people. He learned to speak Spanish and a bit of Portuguese. He wanted to imagine that when he made it back home it would be a relief, that somehow the urge to walk would disappear and he could finally settle into a normal life. He wanted home to be the where he was looking for, but actually returning home made him feel more lost than ever. So he kept going.
Through Oregon and Washington, into British Columbia. He couldn’t stop, not until he got to the place he couldn’t picture but would know nonetheless. Someday he would make it to wherever he was going, and then it would all make sense. He would finally understand why he had walked so far and never been able to stop.
Until then, the walking saint kept walking.
Vacilando – Spanish (verb) – Traveling when the experience itself is more important than the destination.
Number 2 of the Lost in Translation series
It starts with picking just the right one. So many to choose from. Not too green; it shouldn’t be crunchy. Too brown and it’s mushy and hard to swallow. It’s a texture thing. It’s got to be just right.
Then comes the peeling. Start at the stem and work your way down. No need to rush here. Take your time. Relish this common but extraordinary moment. Sometimes it seems like magic. When you’re done with the peel just toss it in the bushes, or place it discretely in somebody’s path for a hilarious display of slapstick.
Now all that is left is the fruit itself, the tender, delicious inside. Isn’t that just like so many things in life? If you can figure out a way past the unsavory outer covering there are precious treasures hidden within. Isn’t it funny where we can find these lessons?
The fruit is delicious yes, but also nutritious. Vitamin C. Potassium. Manganese, Vitamin B6. Enjoy it. Make it last. Give thanks to whatever you choose to thank, for supplying such earthly delights. Giving thanks is an important part of appreciation. Studies have shown that the act of giving thanks helps us truly appreciate things more. Do I even have to remind you to enjoy it?
See, that didn’t take too long, and we aren’t really in a hurry anyway, Maybe there is time to eat another.
Just one more.
Pisan Zapra – Malay (noun) – The time needed to eat a banana.
Number 1 of the Lost in Translation series
For Valentine’s Day this year my wife gave me a book titled Lost In Translation, by Ella Frances Sanders. It is an illustrated book of untranslatable words from around the world. It really is a thought provoking and beautiful book. You can find out more about this book by clicking HERE.
My wife told me that she thought each word could probably be its own story. So I decided to try to write a story for each word. I am going to try to publish one story per week, based on one untranslatable word taken from this book.
Finally, something worth writing about. Lost in Translation.
My mom taught me a couple new swear words this morning on the way to school. Traffic was bad. I can’t tell you what they mean or even what they were without getting in trouble, but trust me when I say they were both creative and breathtaking.
Sometimes I wonder where those words come from.
One day the end happened, and then it happened again.
By the time it was over I really needed a drink.