A few days ago, I visited Munro’s bookstore in Victoria, British Columbia. I had been to Victoria before, but I had never ventured downtown to all the shops. This time, when I did so, I discovered not just a bookstore. I discovered a great bookstore and an experience I had been missing. I visited with books – real ones.
I purchase about two books a week – almost always online. Perhaps a friend tells me I simply must read this book, or I read a review that suggests that another book is just what I have been looking for. I look up the title or author, read the reviews, check the image, and “look inside.” But in most cases, the decision has been made. I’m going to purchase this book, and I use the references to just confirm that I have made the right decision. I click on the button, and the book appears in the mail in a few days or immediately if it is an electronic version. I love this convenience. Once you know that resilience is enhanced by deep knowledge, you seek knowledge at every turn. And books are always a part of this learning for me.
But those few days ago, I visited with books. It was like visiting a dear friend after a long separation. When you visit your friend, you sit over a cup of coffee, leaning over the table toward one another and have a conversation. You talk about what has happened in your life or what you have been thinking about, and they do the same. You go back and forth, sharing your lives, turning around with each other through words. As you take turns, the words often spin off what the other has just said. Conversation means to turn around with, and a conversation with a friend on such occasions is very much like that. You rebuild your relationship, one turn at a time.
And here I was, visiting with books – that lovely experience of just looking at them, running fingers along the spine, pulling out a book just because the title is intriguing. Then opening the book, sometimes to a specific chapter of interest; sometimes randomly, I read a bit. These books had a quality about them. You see, this is a serious bookstore where the seriousness is derived from the fact that each book has been hand selected. Some of us remember that kind of bookstore. A bookstore where someone has searched before you and selected each book because it had some goodness within it. In this kind of bookstore, you don’t worry if you pick a book just because it is appealing. You know that there will be some quality in the book. It’s been selected thoughtfully.
Then there is the proximity. You can move from book to book with a rapidity that can’t be achieved online. The physical book has size, color, texture, width. They sit one next to the other with no markings other than their own. They are fresh and inviting. They offer themselves with abandon.
Twyla Tharp writes in her book, The Creative Habit, about ‘scratching.’ She is talking about how we create new things, how an idea sparked by something needs other sparked ideas to create a field of possibilities in which creativity blooms. “In and of themselves, [big ideas] are meaningless, little more than a goal or a dream; they cease to exist if I fail to follow up on them with the steady string of small ideas that make each a reality. …That is why you scratch for little ideas. Without the little ideas, there are no big ideas.”
Scratching! That’s what I was doing as I ran my hand over the books, read a few words and moved on. I was scratching. Lots of little ideas were percolating through my mind, creating a field of possibilities against my big ideas. Tharp goes on to say, “you have to leave yourself open to everything.” Everything. I know she is talking about truly everything. As a dancer and choreographer, her medium demands so many dimensions, but she says reading is her first line of defense. “If I stopped reading, I’d stop thinking. It’s that simple,” she says.
Resilience demands knowledge of different perspectives and ideas in order to stimulate your own thinking of options. Where do you challenge yourself to think new thoughts?