The Virus Pandemic has placed a great deal of pressure on populated areas throughout the world. No less is the havoc created in the great state of Florida. As a thirty-five-year resident, I have grown to love this state so much that my wife and I decided that this would be our permanent home.
The other day, I walked to our local convenience store to pick up a few snacks. As I got to the end of the second block, I noticed a long line of cars leading into our local community middle school. The cars were hardly moving at all, so I asked one of the drivers why he was in the line.
He replied, “The local food bank is using this location to distribute food to those in need.”
“Are you in need of food?” I asked.
“No, man,” he smiled. “But who wants to pass up free food?”
I was not sure just how to respond to that, so I walked on into the store. As I wandered through this small, but well-stocked local store, I realized just how blessed we are to live where food is plentiful—even free, sometimes. And yet, people seem to be willing to “game” the system even for just a little bit of food we may not even need. I was stunned by the selfishness of it all.
The man in that car was willing to take food he did not need simply because he saw a chance to get something for nothing—even though he looked so well-nourished that it seemed to be like he didn’t need it. Oh, and he was driving a new model car. In my way of thinking, I was appalled that this man was “stealing” food from someone who may have truly needed that food to survive.
At this point, you are probably wondering, “What does this have to do with writing?” After all, this is the blog of an author as the website claims.
Great question if I say so myself. And here is my answer.
After the incident, my thoughts quickly reflected on several books that I had recently reread. One of those books was the iconic 1984 by George Orwell who warned us of what government could become if leaders believed the populous was misusing and threatening the peace and tranquility of the status quo.
Let me repeat that. The experience I described above was a simple, routine sort of incident that happens to us in our daily lives. And yet for me, the first thing I thought of was a book that I had recently read. And, yes, I was a bit surprised at that myself. Why would I think of a book at that moment?
Over the past several years, I have noticed that news reports, movies I’ve watched, telephone conversations I’ve had, and even things I have written recently—they have all reminded me of books that I have read during my lifetime. My heart started beating a little harder and my breathing became labored as I thought just how important books have been in my life.
I also noticed that my best friend and marriage partner has been rereading books I know she has read several times in the past. I asked her why she was doing that instead of reading books she owned that she had not read yet. Her answer amazed me: “These books are like my old friends. I like going back and visiting them every so often.”
As a writer, I like the idea that someone may have read something I wrote then later look back on it as an old “friend.” In fact, I can think of no greater honor than for someone I have never met looking upon a book I had written as their friend, old or new. It is like me being their friend and not knowing it. If books have meant that much to me, then how much more could books mean even more to other people.
My mother used to tell me when I was young to be kind to everyone that I meet no matter what I may think about that person at first. Her reason for saying that? She would continue by saying, “Remember, a stranger is a friend you haven’t met yet.”
Perhaps we as writers feel that way about the books on our shelves. They are old friends. And the books we have not read yet? Perhaps we ought to think of them as friends we have not met yet. That helps me to realize that my next book should be the kind that people can look back on and think of as a friend. I like the way that sounds both as a reader of books and as a writer of books.
So, I throw these thoughts out to maybe give you a little different perspective on the books you are writing, the books you have written, the books you have read, and the books you haven’t read yet. Books are important. Let us help keep it that way.
Herb is an author, speaker, retired college professor, and retired Army Reserve chaplain living in South Florida.
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