Monday, December 3, 2012

Dream of a Bibliophile

I was at an amusement park, such as I went to for my last birthday (and such as, before that birthday, I had not been to for seventeen or eighteen years-- I forget exactly how long). It was towards the end of the day; many of the amuse-ees had gone home, and many of the lines were shorter. I was looking at one of the attractions, trying to decide whether or not to try. The line here was normally monster-long, but at this particular moment, it was sort of looking shorter than they had been all day. A man who was with me began explaining about the attraction. It had something to do with golf-- maybe some kind of mini-golf, but with little side things you could do, too. It was a bit unusual in that people stood in line, and now and again there was something like a lottery, where they only let twelve lucky people in at once; the others were turned away, and would have to try again.

Of the various side attractions, the one which my explain-er was most excited about (and also thought I would be most excited about) was the one where you could read anything you want. They had an entire collection of National Geographics for, like, five years straight! They had wonderful recipes! (Of which more in a moment.) And the coolest part of it all was, while the price of admission to the park covered your entrance to each of the attractions on the day you paid it, IF you were chosen as one of the lucky ones at this particular attraction, you could keep going back, simply by saying "but I haven't finished reading everything I want" for up to two years after that first day. Not to the whole park, but just to this part of this attraction-- but that was nothing to sneeze at! You could read ANYTHING you WANT! For two years!

In the dream, I was suddenly seeing a close-up of the marvelous recipes. If, for instance, one was stuck in a hospital and they gave you boring food (all of the recipes seemed to feature brown food against a brown background-- like a beef turnover with dark gravy) you could make it more exciting with these recipes. They were on large, separate pages, and each one had a full-color picture. So amazing!

After I woke up, I remembered a few things. I remembered when my family first moved to Alabama, I ended up staying with a family from church for a couple of days (they had a daughter my age), and I was SO excited when they said that they had an old stack of National Geographic magazines that they were going to give to the Goodwill, and that I was welcome to keep them if I wanted them. I utterly could not comprehend someone not valuing information, good information such as would be contained in a National Geographic magazine-- that they could so casually give such a magazine away. I took the entire stack, and treasured them. My mother even bought me a subscription to them, and I ate up every one as it came in, on through high school. When I moved to college, I took a heavy duffel bag full of them on the bus with me up to my apartment there.

I had-- even now I am not sure how-- I had forgotten how hungry and thirsty for knowledge I used to feel ALL THE TIME. This dream reflects true feelings, but it reminds me of my true feelings approximately twenty years ago, when the thought of being able to "look it up on the internet" would have thrilled me to the core. I wasn't really starving; I've met people like that (and the sad thing is that some of them don't even know it), but it is true I felt a permanent gnawing hunger, a fear that I would never be able to consume enough to satiate me.

Now I have a different problem. I have plenty of food (/knowledge), but I have to be careful that what I consume is of high quality and not a waste of time. I have, in my older-ness, discovered that National Geographic has an editorial slant, which I do not always agree with; that some facts are more important to know than others; that, sometimes, it is of more value to me to clean my room than to read even a very informative book.

I have also discovered, in this information-glutted age, that true learning requires me to focus my mind, and that focusing is the far greater challenge for me than is getting the information in front of me to start with. I often feel frustrated about my inability to get myself to do what I know perfectly well is good for me.

I had also forgotten what it was like to not really know how to cook; to not be sure how to put ingredients together in a way that would please me (at the very least, and hopefully others as well); and, consequently, to be super-excited about finding a recipe that promised to make my culinary world exciting and/or overall better. I had sort of forgotten what it was like not to really know what to do about vegetables. Food without vegetables really can end up seeming sort of monochromatic. I have felt frustrated (and I know my friends have as well) that I have ended up having issues with eating certain common foods; I had not noticed how, living in the foodie-age that we do, the options for those with limited diets are less limited than ever before.

It is good to be reminded. I do sincerely hope that the two-year time-limit imposed by the dream was just my subconscious' way of reminding me that, as far as I know, my internet access isn't limited by time like that. It certainly hasn't been thus far. This bibliophile's dream is here to stay, and if that isn't reason to rejoice, I don't know what is.

1 comment:

Greg Hendricks said...

I can so relate to this dream on every level. I too have come to the realization that it is harder and harder to find good information and true among the piles and piles available. It is a bit disheartening to go to the library and see that the new books are really just re-hashed sexed up re-tellings of old books. It is rare to find a good and wholesome thing to read, let alone eat in today's world. I totally get the hunger for it though.