Wisdom and Books

It’s graduation time once again, sending another flock of young minds out into the world, always a hopeful premise. Living near a major university, I find the streets littered with everything fleeing new alums no longer need, the stuff that doesn’t fit into a trash bag or the parents’ SUV.

Sofas and mattresses line the curbs of old family homes turned student housing near campus. As to books, that’s another matter. I think I used to recycle my used textbooks through the college bookstore, having kept them remarkably free of damage or excessive highlighting. Some were retained. My aunt was an English teacher, so I never threw away a book.

While walking dog Lulu yesterday I passed a Little Free Library that had in it a copy of The Odyssey. Wow, that’s been a while. I imagine a graduate looking forward to finally getting rid of this classic while dumping it unceremoniously into the repository, only to have a senior citizen look at it with glee and bring it home to enjoy, despite its copious margin notes and highlighting.

For my father’s 70th birthday, his girlfriend took our families on a sailing yacht through the Ionian Sea tracing the route of Odysseus. It was a wonderful voyage but I haven’t read the book since college. Last year, I invested in another copy of Edith Hamilton’s classic reference, “Mythology.” I must have been foreshadowing my encounter with this local Little Free Library!

I even took the first lesson in modern Greek on Duolingo, where I’ve been doing my best to butcher both the Italian and French languages since the onset of world COVID.

One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, indeed. When one gets old and still chooses to learn something new every day, I hope that translates into wisdom. We’ll see once I re-read The Odyssey.

How about this, we do learn from history…. so, why not have a local Banned Bookstore? I don’t think current knowledge-haters want to stand in the public square burning books. But I may be wrong. Who knows what we’re headed for if we choose not to stand up for our democracy.

Perhaps I’ll read to Zoe about the first known fictional pet dog Argos. If I left home and Lulu was still around twenty years later, would she be the first to remember me? Somehow I doubt that kind of loyalty that she thinks only belongs to whomever filled her food bowl this morning. Read your history! Dee

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