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The Library of Life

What shapes and molds our story, our life, as an author would? The answer comes from the mundane task of whittling down an ever-growing book collection.

Murmurs and whispers came slowly, gathering like a barely discernable mist, encircling me as I went shelf by shelf across the bookcases. These books were trying to say something, but as to exactly what I could not quite put my finger on.

Alone in the front room, the task of thinning the herd of my ever-growing book collection was before me. Recently purchased books required a home, and consequently others had to go. Touching the spines as I read and reread jackets before replacing them or relegating them to ‘the pile’, more often than not a faint smile spread as I sorted. Books and stories long forgotten until my hand plucked them from obscurity (or more accurately my shelf) were like seeing an old friend. Others were immediately marked for removal while a few questionable ones held their own until their story could be read.

If you sit with books long enough, inspiration will come. The absence of sound does not mean nothing is being communicated. Indeed, those books conveyed more in their silence than a room bustling with chatter ever could.

Literary works take an inordinate amount of time to craft, but like people, leave a legacy that far outlasts a single generation. Look no further than the fact that women are still swooning for Mr. Darcy over two hundred years after his introduction.

Our story is still being written. Who shapes and molds us as an author would? And what are we made into? No doubt everyone will have a different answer to those questions.

Just like the books who were like seeing an old friend, those that love us shape us. They give us guardrails, a lens to see the world, and perhaps most importantly—a conscience. The way we experience the world, our values.

The questionable ones, those that push us to consider other possibilities, shape us as well. Their intent may not be apparent but regardless you hone your judgment as you tentatively take the first few steps. You may be enlightened or disgusted—but your convictions are borne here.

And yes, the ones that require immediate ejection—we all have had those people in our lives. Unpleasant little buggers, needling you, devaluing you, taking advantage. They mold us just as much as the others, but instead of heralding an example to follow, they depict what we too may become if we do not adjust course. They build character.

Who are we? At our core? When the show is over and the audience departs? When all that is left are the echoes of our own voice sitting atop a shelf?

Our story will last far longer than we may ever anticipate. Weave it like a master storyteller in your own individual way. But never forget that each and every story goes through many drafts and edits. Do not be afraid to make mistakes, double back, make amends, change the plot, or to get lost in the moments of wonder.

An author would expect no less.

The library of life has a spot reserved. The rest is up to you.

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