“There is no friend as loyal as a book.”
― Ernest Hemingway
Today I went to one of my favourite old bookstores. It’s Eclipse books in Bellingham, Washington. Two full floors of bookshelves from floor to ceiling filled with books. Then there are the books that don’t fit on the shelves so they are stacked neatly on the floor, all over the floor of the store. It reminds me a bit of most of the old apartments I had as a young adult.
I’ve always loved reading. At a time in my life when I was less than socially adept, books comprised most of the friendships I had. There are still fictional characters I have late night conversations with, their viewpoints coming in surprisingly handy.
One of the coolest things about Eclipse books is that I find books there that I don’t seem to find in any other used book stores anywhere. Books I haven’t seen in years. They and several more common ones comprise, well if they were music, I would call it a soundtrack to my life so let’s call it a backdrop.
There were the first three books that along with a class I took, gave me my start at reading the tarot when I was 18: Seventy-Eight Degrees of Wisdom by Rachel Pollack, Tarot a handbook for the Apprentice by Eileen Connolly and The Book of Thoth by Alister Crowley. There were also several other tarot books I’ve read over the years since. There were the Carlos Castaneda books which recounted his apprenticeship with the Nagual Sorcerer Don Juan that was the jumping off points for my studies about the same time into Theosophy,the Kaballa, witchcraft, Ceremonial Magick and quite a few other areas.
Over in Fiction, there was On the Road by Jack Kerouac, a book that captured my heart and my imagination even earlier and which no doubt led to some later cross-country hitchhiking trips I was to undertake, The World According to Garp and the Hotel New Hampshire by John Irving which made me feel with their outlandish so true to life characters that my life wasn’t quite so strange after all or if it was I was not alone. Still I Persist in Wondering by Edgar Pangborn, one of the finest short story collections I have ever read and one of the most heart stretching and heart wrenching. Lots of other Science Fiction that I also loved, Asimov, Ellison, Spider Robinson, Roger Zelazney, Ursula Le Guin, Robert Heinlein filled the walls looking down on me as if to say, “Where have you been? It’s great to see you back, would you like so spend some time?”
Walking back up the stairs, I found a few old self-help books buried in my memory and displayed, among them Ira Progoff’s In a Journal Workshop, an amazing book for organizing one’s inner life through writing and journalling.
Sometimes the best thing about seeing old friends is the realization of how much you’ve grown since the last time you saw each other. What’s even more fun is realizing there is still more things to discover with them beyond the sharing of memories.
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