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Homefull 1.2: High Touch

Packing requires a lot of touching. Yesterday, I packed the books in my office, thirty one boxes, authors in alphabetical order, segregated into non-fiction and fiction. I touched every blessed one.

I sneezed my head off. My present seems like my past with dust. My treasures were dusty after three and a half years on the shelves. I found many old friends lurking; like touching my past.

I couldn’t feel anything but wealthy after a day perusing that past, recalling the times and places those titles first found me. That copy of Münchausen’s Pigtail, which, twenty-five years ago, fell to my feet off a shelf and changed my life. Sheldon Kopp’s remarkable parables which have inspired me so. The Saturday night dates spent rifling through the Powell’s Books sales stacks. The many titles that accompanied me on long, otherwise lonely night flights back home. Those remaining copies of David Pye’s The Nature & Aesthetics of Design, a book which undermined my faith in methodology and process. My future came into sharper focus while I immersed myself in this past.

Books won’t be replaced by electronic alternatives. Packing an eLibrary wouldn’t ever be necessary. No dust, no musty old-book smell, no wiping down the empty shelves, no past coming present, no present so thoroughly infusing with the past. A physical book might be as close to the immortal as mere mortals ever get. I can carry the past into my future and even create a spanking new present there, reading familiar phrases in a new context sparks wholly new insights.

I should not have felt so surprised at how very many books I’d forgotten were there. Not a day has passed that I have not passed by those shelves. I clearly wasn’t paying close attention. So, I’m grateful—now, finally—for the moving hassle. My foot-dragging delayed my opportunity to refresh these crucial relationships, but moving my library felt as daunting as moving a wishing well, water table and all.

In a month, I’ll unpack and re-shelve, discarding those few that have outlived their usefulness or never quite lived up to my hopes. Unpacking might take a while longer. Packing, I resisted the constant urge to stop, read, and revisit. I doubt that I’ll be able to avoid peeking in to see how Hilarie Belloc and Bertram Russell are doing then, and to see who I’ve become in the dusty ages since we last shared the reading chair.

Moving can’t help but be a high touch experience. I get to touch everything I own and also get touched by everything that’s moved me.

©2012 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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