“Reading is sometimes thought of as a form of escapism, and it’s a common turn of phrase to speak of getting lost in a book. But a book can also be where one finds oneself; and when a reader is grasped and held by a book, reading does not feel like an escape from life so much as it feels like an urgent, crucial dimension of life itself. There are books that seem to comprehend us just as much as we understand them, or even more. There are books that grow with the reader as the reader grows, like a graft to a tree.”
–from My Life in Middlemarch by Rebecca Mead
“My action is my possession,
my action is my inheritance,
my action is the womb which bears me,
my action is my refuge.”
–from the Anguttara Nikaya as quoted by Joanna Macy in her book World As Lover, World As Self
Can books choose us? Can they change us? Can they spur us on into action?
Or do they merely drug us and sap all the energy out of us so that we are no good for the rest of the world? Only good for a nice long nap…
Perhaps the way they affect us is by producing “symbolic change”–much the way a compulsive dieter will read every single weight loss book that comes out and cover its pages in crumbs.
Yes, action is necessary, action is essential–yet it is fruitless when it doesn’t take aim properly.
There is a “calm before the storm” stage when we are testing our depths in the pages of a book.
Then the archer can see clearly…the circle of paint comes into focus…and as the arrow is released into the air in one clean motion.
What is it that improves the archer’s eyesight? What makes an action the right thing to do?
I don’t know. All I know is that a committed group of people must change the way we are seeing the world and the way we are seeing ourselves in the world. We must hijack the mainstream media and its “electronic hallucinations” that are mixing us up, dulling our senses, blinding us to everything vital and important. We are in a state of emergency. But no one is getting the memo. Instead, we are booting up, checking our email, browsing the latest celebrity gossip, charging and recharging. We are dizzy with an overload of information and unable to draw any real conclusions because it is all so random and so endlessly abundant and so deadly.