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Wednesday, June 26, 2019

The books that carry us

We carry the things we find in the books we read, they wait for just the right moment to bind us to...who we are, where we are going, and where we will stand in that final moment.
John Steinbeck's words in his novel "East of Eden:" found me in my 21 first year. My heroes have always been teachers and librarians. I spent many of my early years visiting that old library on Grove Street in Jersey City. I knew it had treasure to mine.
That same Library Lady who shared her cookies, and hot chocolate pointed me to many a treasure from 10-29. She was with me when I was a homeless child, and when I had grown to become a young university scholar. She knew me at 10, and knew me better at 21.
I was a younger scholar than I am today. But young or old, like any prospector for gold I know it, when I find it.
I remember it, like it happened five minutes ago. My Library Lady, said young Jess, have you read East of Eden?
She opened that book, and read these words:
"I believe that there is one story in the world, and only one, that has frightened and inspired us, so that we live in a Pearl White serial of continuing thought and wonder. Humans are caught - in their lives, in their thoughts, in their hungers and ambitions, in their avarice and cruelty, and in their kindness and generosity too - in a net of good and evil. I think this is the only story we have and that it occurs on all levels of feeling and intelligence. Virtue and vice were warp and woof of our first consciousness, and they will be the fabric of our last, and this despite any changes we may impose on field and river and mountain, on economy and manners. there is no other story. A man, after he has brushed off the dust and chips of life, will have left only the hard, clean questions: Was it good or was it evil? Have I done well - or ill?”
As soon as she read those words. I knew, exactly where I wanted to stand for the rest of my days. She know how to hook readers, and she had had my number since I was 10. Some misguided people think Librarians look after books. I know better, they are always looking after human beings.
My plan, since that day has always been to answer...
I may stumble from time to time, but each time I shall manage to brush off that dust and chips of life...
I have been homeless,
I have been hungry,
I have been broken,
I have been beaten bloody,
I have been lost,
I have failed,
I have been humbled.
But, I have these treasures, dug from books I carry everywhere.
These books, friends leaves me knowing.
That on my last night,
I shall, stand tall, look up at that Moon in that final dark night...Certain that from young Jesse to old Jesse to Jesse no more, that my answer will always be It was good. Make it good people.
I have found my soul in books,
Dr. Jesse P. Turner
Central Connecticut State Literacy Center Director

If you are interested in listening to the tune that inspired my morning walk today...its Change The World by Eric Clapton > <

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