On Borrowing Books

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Borrowing books. It’s difficult to hand over a book you cherish to even a close friend. You want them to share in the story, but you worry about pages being bent, torn, falling in a puddle, getting lost on the bus, chewed up by the family pet, coming back to you covered in coffee stains and granola crumbs.

Those are the typical reasons, but I think there’s more to it. When I own a book I love, I make it personal. I write in the margins, I underline certain lines, I bookmark sections I want to revisit, and so on. Sometimes I forget I do these things because they’ve become so natural to me. This means that when I hand a book to someone – my dad, a friend, a classmate – I don’t always think to erase something I scribbled or take out a placeholder. It’s never a big deal and it’s never anything worth mentioning afterwards, but it’s something I think about anyway. Are they reading and agreeing with what I said? Do they think I’m crazy? Are they wondering why there’s a blue sticky note attached to the middle of page 42? Again, nothing is ever said other than “good book,” but I started to notice the same trends when borrowing books from other people.

I’m borrowing one now and as I was reading, a birthday card fell out from the middle. Nothing big, but it was kind of funny. Just a floral birthday card obviously from grandparents. I’ve been careful to remember what pages it was hidden between so that I don’t forget to slip it back in. Maybe she put it there for a reason or stuck it there so she wouldn’t lose it and forget. Either way, every time it slips out it just makes me laugh for a second.

Books are so personal and why wouldn’t they be? They’re a way to relax and get away so they eventually become storage units and notepads because we know that this is where we’ll go to at the end of the day. They slowly reflect the book owner to a point where we don’t even realize we’re using it for other tasks.

Honestly, I love it. I love the idea of a book becoming part of you and not just something to stash on the shelf after a week for people to look at when they stop by. It’s personal and only the stories that speak to us and make an impression receive that privilege.

It’s a pretty amazing thing.

 

 

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Stone Henge

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The morning my group went to visit Stone Henge, it rained and stormed more than it had the entire 2 weeks we’d been there. Up until then the weather had been wonderful considering it was late December/early January. It was surprisingly sunny and always wavering from low 40’s to high 50’s. It was perfect for walking about and enjoying the sights until that morning and this was the only day we experienced terrible weather conditions.

We first visited what I refer to as the “knock-off Stone Henge.” The real name is Avebury. The history is interesting if you ever want to research it, but that day I just did not care. Maybe it was because I wanted to see the real Stone Henge or maybe because I was getting hailed on. Either way, we didn’t stay long. The place looked abandoned that morning, there was mud everywhere, and by the time we got back on the bus we were all soaking wet.

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The rain only stopped briefly at Stone Henge, but the wind was awful. Luckily there was transportation that took you up to the sight and back down to the gift shop/museum. Before we arrived, our professor was saying how we would have to make the hike up there (I still don’t know if she was joking or not) and it was at that point I debated if seeing Stone Henge was worth bearing the cold wind and mud up to my ankles.

Even if I had to hike, it was definitely worth it. I would have been so angry with myself if I didn’t see it. It’s smaller in person and not exactly this wonder I had set in my mind, but I couldn’t look away from it. Maybe all the mysteries regarding this strange circle aren’t as mystic as TV shows, films, and music videos would make you believe, but it’s still a scrap of history that’s managed to keep our culture’s attention for centuries.

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I loved the museum and seeing who these people might have been and how they might have lived. There was a video that played on a loop in the middle of the exhibit which showed Stone Henge throughout the years. It was honestly the creepiest thing I’ve ever seen given there was no music only nature sounds and it speeds by so the people appear as shadows lurking from behind the pillars. Yet I watched it loop a few times because, again, I couldn’t look away.

I think Stone Henge has stayed with us because it’s so odd and yet so simple. It’s perfect for constructing myths and legends around it and that’s why people face the rain and the wind and the hail and their own exhaustion just to catch a glimpse of it. It’s filled with stories, some true and some not. We can create our own identity for it and that makes it stand out from all the ordinary sights we’re surrounded with everyday. It’s something to think about and to be inspired by.

So is it worth a hike in the rain? Yes, I would say it is.

Just to Get There

I’ve mentioned it before, but one of my favorite lines in any Lord of the Rings film adaption is “Just to get there” said by Frodo in the animated version of The Fellowship. 

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He says this with exasperation. Every burden seems to be resting on his shoulders and, in a way, they are. He has the ring which is gradually growing heavier with each passing day. It’s draining him to the point where he questions if he can even take another step forward. In moments of silence, he’s dreaming about getting to his destination. He wants to achieve the goal he set out for himself and go home to enjoy some peace and a happy life. No wonder he wants to “just get there.”

In a way we all have our “ring.” We have these anxieties, fears, and doubt. We want to do well in our lives, to find peace. We want to carry out our dreams no matter how difficult and exhausting they may be. And the further we move towards those the goals, the heavier those anxieties become. What a relief it would be to throw them into a pit of fire and enjoy our own accomplishments, but the path is long and not always a fun little adventure filled with wonder.

I’m constantly thinking about getting there. I’m a daydreamer so I often think about my future home, city, career, where I’ll spend my summers. All I want is “just to get there” because this “adventure” feels incredibly long and sadly I’m still within the first book within the first half. How can this ring feel so heavy already?

For me, it’s most likely because I expect a lot out of myself and I can’t always live up to those expectations. I’m always assuming that I should be further along in my life when honestly I’m doing just fine. I’m exactly where I need to be at this point. Yes, I want to throw away the anxiety, complete my task, and spend the rest of my time peacefully hanging out in my own “Shire” enjoying the life I’ve built for myself, but, that would be a boring story.

Sometimes I look back on the accomplishments I have made and they all seem so easy in retrospect. All I had to do was go here and do this and get that and convince myself of this and walk over here and be here and exactly this time and so forth. It all seems so simple, but at the time I only want to skip ahead to the good/exciting parts.

The sad thing is, I know that eventually I will get there and I’ll look back and laugh at how foolish I was. How stressed I made myself over the stupidest things.

Maybe instead of worrying about “getting there” I should take the ring off every now and then. Set down the burdens and the doubt and the anxiety and find contentment in what’s happening in the present because “there” will always be around. I might not make it there today or tomorrow or even a year from now, but it won’t ever leave. Everyday I get closer to those goals so why not enjoy those days instead of rushing through out of impatience?