My Life is in my Books

A few weeks ago, the New York Times published an editorial on the impact of Apple’s newly released ipad, which essentially heralded death to print and long live the electronic age and ebooks. As we were still living in the throes of life after the “Great Quake,” and learning to manage without modern conveniences, such as utilities, the author’s comments provided much fodder for my verbal and written commentary. While computers, cell phones (especially iphones), ipods, and other electronic devices have added much to the ease and quality of life, they quickly became useless as battery charge worn down during the post earthquake weeks. During the first month, I found solace reading my tangible and much loved books by natural and candlelight. It was then that I began to embrace parts of myself long forgotten in coping with the challenges of my life.

They say that a picture tells a thousand words. For myself, books tell a thousand stories. In the case of my personal library, my books hold the remnants of the thousand lives I have lived in one. During the early aftermath of the 8.8 earthquake, I had turned to my books for entertainment and solace when the charge on my laptop was finally spent. I was surprised to find the multitude of past life souvenirs tucked in between pages. My books didn’t just portray my literary taste, but were also a repository for the course of my life. Among the treasures were: old business cards, letters, receipts, articles, candy wrappers and even old Fortran cards, from the days when computers were programmed by punches on paper rather than keys. Much as an archeologist sifts the soil for tales of the past, I have thumbed through pages for tales of my history.

This morning, I pulled a book on Richard Neutra, world reknown architect, and was surprised to find a folded piece of paper containing quotes from Steve Jobs and Eric Hoffer tucked inside the front cover flap. There was no identification of the source, but it read:

“In his commencement address to Stanford’s graduating class, Apple CEO Steve Jobs reminisced about the time, many years ago, when he was sacked by the company he started. ‘It turned out that getting fired was the best thing that could have happened to me,’ he said. ‘The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.’ “

The quote from Eric Hoffer read, “In times of change, learners inherit the earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.”

Both statements have such relevancy to my life as a trailing expatriate partner. Not only has my familiar world been altered twice – first by the ten thousand league jump to a new continent and hemisphere, and then by the largest quake of this millennium – but also because, after 1 ½ years of adjusting to life and language in Chile, I am finally ready to take a leap forward into a new career. My previous career had ended successfully as a Director of Marketing and Public Relations for a five-facility oncology group. Now, the horizons of who I want to be as I grow (up) are wide open again. I can strive to reinvent myself yet one more time.

As for the insightful words of Jobs and Hoffer, which have left me pondering all morning, where would I have been able to tuck them in an ipad to rediscover untold years later? The ipad is a wonderful addition to life, but could never hold glimpses of my life for both posterity and myself to unfold.

While fairly certain, that as an Apple fanatic who has worked on a Mac since 1987, I will eventually add some generation of the ipad to my briefcase, it will have to share companionship with whatever my latest printed reading of choice is then.

(While writing this post on one of our apartment balconies, the entire building gave a sharp shake that had me running for the door. It was just another reminder from Mother Earth that her “indigestion” was not yet over).

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