as time goes by

In my youth, a classic education included the obligation to learn how to draw. It was part of the curriculum. There was no mention of creativity. That was a characteristic of god. But drawing was considered by some as learning to see; taking  notes as it were of what we saw. We started with a tree, a horse, or a flower. It was a pleasure watching someone as their eye traveled from the subject of their drawing to the paper in front of them and back again. We called it a study. In those days, it was common, especially for those who were not satisfied with their renditions on paper, to put a flower in a book and press it. Life did not start with the digital age. There were delights that disappeared at every stage of progress.

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the type of library I remember and love

For the young, change is exciting and enlivening. It’s a challenge, and healthy people enjoy challenges. And it’s an opportunity to see the world created anew within our own lifetime. I remember the words of a sage who said, ‘the creation of the world wasn’t finished in those famous six days; god continues to recreate the world every minute… and if that were to stop, our world wouldn’t exist’. I didn’t understand it at the time. It seemed a poetic phrase, an expression of the praise of god. But in old age, the phrase has returned with understanding. Change is an integral part of both our world and ourselves. To deny it or to fight it is to stop our inner world.

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As a student, I spent most of my time in the study hall of the seminary, where I was fascinated by history and philosophy in the holy books. I didn’t just sit and learn. I stood at times, with my book on a reading stand (a lectern), and took walks now and then to digest what I had read. It was an adventure for me to walk to the local library, which was my second home for many years. Many of the writers I read mentioned other books, either to agree or disagree with them, and so I always had notes in my pocket, reminding me of books I wanted to open. But sometimes while visiting the library, I would wander through the aisles and gaze at the stacks, picking up a book just because of its title or the way it looked.

My father was a scientist, which gave him access to a computer as early as the 50s of the previous century. In those days the computer was as large as a couple of rooms in a house, and belonged to the university. He used it for complicated mathematical computations. But as he explored the possible uses of this relatively new instrument, he managed to translate the image of my mother to a printout using the letters of the alphabet to provide the shadings of her face. The printout had the standard holes on both sides of the page, and the paper was cheap and discolored as it aged. Enthusiastic about the ‘human aesthetic’ captured by a machine, I hung the picture on one of my walls. And when it grew old and ugly in my eyes, I threw it away. I regret that now. As a matter of fact, I can’t understand how it happened that I, known to hold on to used shopping bags till they become an obstacle in the laundry room, could possibly throw such an article away. In any case, that mechanical portrait heralded the digital age for me.

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the newer libraries look like this… not too many books
and open for just a few hours

Now, as a photographer, I am often asked for my opinion regarding smartphone cameras. People often suspect that one still needs a ‘real’ camera to attain quality photographs. I don’t use my smartphone camera for a number of reasons. But I really like them; they’re wonderful. For the sort of work I used to do, every camera was a part of a set of working tools. For an enthusiast, the choice of one camera demands compromise. Each has its advantages and disadvantages. I am one of those people who walk around with a Swiss pocket knife in their pants’ pocket. I’ll admit it can be bested by someone who carries two knives, two screwdrivers, a can opener and bottle opener around with him, plus scissors, a corkscrew, a punch and a few other items. I came to photography because I loved it, but it was a lot of hard work. Aside from taking the picture, there was the endless choice of possible emulsions, chemical processes, developing films, and printing on paper. Digital photography made most of the techniques I learned and mastered over the years irrelevant. It was cheaper and easier, and it soon became available to almost everyone, thus greatly reducing the need for professional photographers. And as amateurs began to take advantage of the new tools, they demonstrated that imagination and invention need no diploma. But still, easy isn’t enough. When things get a little easier, we unconsciously search out difficulty. For instance, I’ve noticed that with the digital camera, it’s so easy to take a picture that people amass an infinite number of them… and then go through the agonies of hell deciding which ones to show their friends.

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this basket of books was found on the street, asking for adoption
some folks just can’t bear to throw a beloved book away

After moving to my new home, I started taking long walks to get to know the neighborhood better. Found the public library, a beautiful new building with large windows and a very modern design. It was a little hard for me to visit, because it was only open from 2:00 to 7:00 pm. I usually rest from 2:00 to 4:00, but no matter… I finally got there when it was open, and looked around. It was very clean and orderly. They had computers there too. The isles were wide, and the rooms were brightly lit. But strangely enough, there seemed to be less books than I expected. I searched out subjects that interested me, and was disappointed to find the book choices few. It turned out that the library was relatively new. The head librarian with whom I spoke seemed a very congenial woman.

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this is the newest type of library here; run by volunteers and offering
free books to anyone who wants them

For the first time in my life, I started thinking of what would happen to my own sizable collection of books. It occurred to me that I could leave them to this library in my last will, and contribute something tangible to my neighbors after my death. But when I asked the librarian if the library would be interested in a gift of books, I saw embarrassment in her face. Well, she said, they were always pleased to receive a present but the library was only interested in new books. New Books? I asked for clarification. Surely people still read Tolstoy and Shalom Aleichem? Well, of course, people are welcome to read whatever they choose, she explained, but the library only accepts books that have been published or printed since the turn of the century. Yikes!

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53 responses to “as time goes by

  1. From the first book I read: שני רעים יצאו לדרך/two friends on a journey, to the the last one: The Sympathizer, books were and still are my most treasured possessions, except for my father’s ashtray.
    I am familiar with the old library in my hometown Netanya, where i checked out books and just like buying freshly baked challah, not being able to contain myself, and biting into the warm crust, so it was with the books of my childhood, starting to read on my walk home, bumping into people who used to be annoyed at me (for having my face buried in the book), who would often say: “ Hey girl, watch where you’re going.”
    A couple of years ago I went to NYC and visited their main public library. I remember my excitement and my heart was actually pounding with anticipation. The library was so beautiful and so large… and mostly empty.
    I asked one of the librarians: “Where are the people?” And the response was that libraries will eventually become museums or some other activity center.
    Kindle and computers revolutionized the way we look at books and our tactile experience. It’s comfortable to use my kindle when I go on vacation. I don’t need to carry so much stuff. But I’m not in love with my kindle.

    • Hi there Rachel. Always interesting to find something we have in common with a friend. I have a similar ‘precious possession’; my mother’s ashtray. Except in this case, neither my mother or my father smoked. Mother bought the blue, glass ashtray, so that I’d be comfortable when I visited them, and it’s on my writing table since she died.
      I accept the fact that Kindle and other e-books have taken the place of books printed on paper. It was bound to happen, and I really do think it’s an improvement. I don’t mind the reduction or loss of the sensual pleasure related to holding an old fashioned book. I can carry a stack of books and they’re lighter than one book these days. But the problem is this: libraries used to be a place for serious study… especially for those youngsters who didn’t have a quiet, well furnished and heated home in which to work. Most of the popular literature is turned into digital books these days, but there are thousands of books that have very special or particular appeal to small minority students, and they have not even been considered for scanning yet. And finally, this idea of preference for new books is beyond me. I can usually guess why public institutions choose this or that. But old books carry the soul of a library as I have known them. How could they sweep old books aside? Thanks very much for your comment.

  2. I am moving and have been trying to think what to do with my books as I am moving with my mother, whose house is already full of books. I have managed to give some to the library (only brand new, you are right), some to a variety of charity shops, and a few seemed of interest to book dealers, but very few. I am taking some with me, although how many will depend on the cost. These days I read mostly e-books but it is sad to think how many people don’t have access to books… I hope yours find a good home and hopefully you won’t need to think about it for a very long time.

    • I can imagine what it’s like, Olga having gone through a similar move in the recent past. In a house full of books, and I’ve known a few, it often feels that the books are holding up the house more than the bricks that form the walls. And it’s never quite the same after the move. In my case, I don’t really worry about the books themselves after I leave this world. But I do worry about the young people who might not find them accessible when all they can find are new books or digital books, because not all are available in ebook format. The thought of my personal books being recycled doesn’t cause me pain. But I do worry about the young. Thank you so much for your good wishes and your comment.

  3. Another awe inspiring text (sonnet>) I am quite obviously not read enough to discuss here. I got a kick out of a horde of people with cell phone cameras, amassing photos to show to their friends in hell. And right under that is a basket of books…to me, implying”going to hell in a hand-basket. 🙂 I have never heard of a learning style you describe. Standing while reading sounds odd to me…as if you practiced it, or someone encouraged it? I have a library filled with “coffee-table_ books. Filled with incredible images….to me…wondrous. And yes, it will be in my will. I envy your art appreciation/study. Literally on a daily basis I want for a drawing ability.. Take care of your health Shimon…I will have more questions that need answers. 🙂

    • Hi there Bob. Standing while studying or reading is a long established practice in the Jewish community. We have special tables for just this position, and I have two such stands in my home. I remember that when John Kennedy was president, he had a table like that because of his back troubles. Fortunately, I’ve never suffered from back aches, and maybe that is at least partially thanks to the fact that I change positions while I study. I know I have been photographed in that posture on numerous occasions, but looking for a picture I just found this one. I tried to post it here, and it didn’t work. You can find it on https://thehumanpicture.wordpress.com/2016/01/01/whereabouts-of-the-muse-1/. I’ll write you privately, and give you a report on my health. But meantime, I am happy to report that I’m much better these days. Thanks so much for your kind words.

  4. Talking of yikes! Shimon, I drove past an antique shop advertising old and vintage wares, This included 20th century goods. You and I, a couple of antiques, born last century. Oy. I agree that time doesn’t stand still and neither should we. But while I’m always glad to learn something new, I am equally pleased to have experienced and hang on to some of the old ways. What a shame the old can’t be merged with the new. So many things lost.

    I know you won’t mind my mentioning it, Shimon, but in your context it’s aisle and not isle. Two different meanings.

    • First of all, Mary, thanks for the correction. Of course, I wouldn’t want my errors accusing me forever on the pages I’ve written. And yes, we are antiques. And I do believe that part of our existence is tied to the tools and conveniences we used during all of our lives, but I fear that much of that has no use to the generations that will come after us. I still open my desk drawer at times and pull out my old beloved fountain pen, remembering the feel of it once again. But I don’t even write a few lines with it anymore, because filling it with ink and afterwards having to clean it once again is too much bother for me. It’s always a pleasure to hear from you.

  5. Tears of joy, Shimon … Thank you for writing again … It has been so long … But I never forgot you and suspect never will … How are you, my friend ? … Ya … I schlepped my books and my records all the way to Canada from Europe … I will never let them go … and I will never let you go either … smiles … Love you much, cat.

    • Oh, I am so happy we have made contact once again, my dear cat. Thank you for keeping me alive in your memory, and thanks for holding on. I admire that facility. I’ll keep my books too, as long as I’m alive in this world… and I enjoy their company. In fact, in the last few years I’ve had some very enjoyable revisits with some old friends on paper. love, shimon

  6. Libraries and books are things we enjoyed throughout the years. It’s so sad to think that now they only accept books that are printed since the turn of the century. What valuable literature they would be missing. Have to say I missed those drawing lessons and wish perhaps my teacher would have promoted them.

    • That’s really what’s bothering me, Bev. I feel it’s terribly unfair to the young, to take our literary past out of common access. I learned the most important things I know from old books and journals, and without prejudice towards newer methods, I wish the past were not ignored. Maybe in the future, all of what was available on paper will be available in digital format as well. And if so, I would be satisfied with that. But I am afraid that the coming generations will only know what some editor or museum personnel will consider ‘the best’ of the bygone days.

  7. Fortunately, we have found libraries that welcome our donations. I wonder how we can ever hope to learn from history, if access to it – in all mediums – is limited. I say this with the perspective that we haven’t exactly proved to be outstanding academics in this regard so far.
    As an aside, I delight whenever I see your notifications in my inbox.

    • Very glad to hear that you were able to find libraries that could appreciate the gift you offered them. I agree with you completely. It is truly wonderful to learn from history. It gives us a perspective that allows us to avoid some of the pitfalls, and to reach the greatest heights. I always treasure the words attributed to Isaac Newton, “I stand on the shoulders of giants who’ve come before me”. Thank you so much for sharing with me your enjoyment of my writing, Mimi. You’ve truly made me happy.

  8. Everything seems to have a new definition. Nothing will be ‘old’ for 50 years in your new local communal book store. It is increasingly difficult to justify retaining large spaces everywhere for special and specialist books, however, some balance is required. I suspect dumbing-down is the economic option in so many areas of life these days. Centralisation is the favoured option-economics talk here- but it is not as inclusive as it is described to be.

    Digitisation seems to be the ‘way forward’, it does bring in people from remote places, who would not otherwise have the option of accessing anything. The key proviso here, though, they have to be digitally connected somewhere within reach to benefit from the technology. For me, the big BUT, is, I like to see, browse and hold books; I like to read books, filter back and forth if something catches my thoughts. Digitisation is not successful in replicating any of those sensory actions. It disrupts my my study mode. Readers and tablets are useful for downloading heavy tomes that I, for one, would not carry with me, to read at opportune moments.

    My uni libraries and stacks were and are much as you picture. Treasure troves, though sometimes difficult to negotiate in all sorts of physical ways. This in itself is an important consideration. There are ways around a lot of needs, given commitment to do so.
    Learning to be aware of what is around you from a young age is such an important development of the senses. For those whose senses are impaired, it opens up opportunities to learn to mutually share and communicate with others in alternative ways. Which, neatly takes us back to the learning and communication function of libraries old and new.

    Shalom Shabbat.

    • What a horror that expression is, dumbing-down. It is hard enough that languages change all the time, and that civilized life seems to be getting more and more regimented. I do agree with you that digital is the way forward, and believe it will very likely be seen as the greatest revolution in human affairs up till now. And though you’re right that there is a loss of sensory enjoyment, it is obvious that the younger generation much prefers the advantages to the disadvantages. In fact, I myself use a scanning wand to digitalize sentences and paragraphs from books on paper in order to comment on them. But I also fear the disappearance of a lot of good sources from the coming generations. I can’t imagine that everything will be digitalized. But who knows? Thank you very much for your comment, Menhir. shavuah tov.

  9. Yikes indeed! Welcome to our brave new world. As always a most thought provoking post. What a shame that you threw your Father’s print out…..which makes it even more important that you write about it. I often think how fortunate I am to have lived at a time where there were no computers and in this time where everything seems to be bound up in technology. I feel fortunate because it means that I know how to amuse myself without technology. I am very happy to live with pen, paper, paint, books etc. I am extremely happy to enjoy long interesting conversations with friends. I feel so fortunate to love walking for hours in the countryside or sometimes in a city…..and at the same time I feel most fortunate that 17 years ago I began to explore the computer. I do feel a concern for young people who have never experienced the former – who are totally reliant upon technology….and it would seem are permanently connected to their phones. I have even caught people in my workshops looking at their phone which I find to be both rude and sad. For those who do such a thing it would seem that the ability to focus has been lost. Your books will be someone else’s treasure one day…..Speaking of books I am reading several Margaret Atwood books currently….The Year of the Flood and Orx & Crake….and am thoroughly enjoying. Talk about through provoking! Another book I have loved is ‘Georgia’ by Donna Tripp. This is a novel based on the life of Georgia O’Keefe and her long term relationship with Stieglitz the photographer. Written in the first person it is as if Donna Tripp has ‘channelled’ O’Keefe. I highly recommend. On that note, have a lovely weekend and please give Nechama a stroke from me. Janet

    • Like yourself, Janet, I am very grateful to have to see the dawn of the digital revolution. I’m sure the world will never be the same as we first got to know, when we came into this world. I too enjoy the pleasures of an earlier time, but it is hard for me to compare the old ways to the new, because I am really not a part of this ‘brave new world’. Though I’ve read quite a bit about Georgia O’Keefe, because of her connection to Stieglitz, I’ve bought the book you recommended and can’t wait to start reading. I did like a couple of books by Margaret Atwood. I think you recommended her too. But at some point, I think it was the ‘Blind Assassin’, she wore me out. And as for my library, just as I’m at piece with my own body being recycled, I accept that books may be on their way out. But it is very important for me that they youth have as many stimuli and choices as we did. If they were to digitalize all our written past, I would be satisfied with that. Just this last weekend, I was studying history, and came across a number of volumes that have been described by others, but were totally lost over the years. That sort of loss seems such a needless waste to me. Your visits always make me purr… and Nechama with me. Thanks so much for your comment.

  10. New books!!!! Made me sad to hear this… I am not sure is it same in here too. I also think about my own library. From where to come in times… I can’t believe this.

    Hi dear Shimon, when I was reading you, I found my thoughts too, it is same for our generation I think. I can’t imagine the future even near future too… Everything changes so fast and I can’t catch what is new….

    In some of my books still I can find flowers, or some of leaves… I am old one and nostalgic and romantic… I am not belonging to this century, exactly not for me all these digital world.. but yes I am on this platform too.

    Walking is really important. And I love too. But I can’t walk for a few days and seems it will take some more time too. Because I injured my belly muscle. But anyway, I am reading a book now, it is A Philosophy of Walking, Frédéric Gros… It is enjoyable.

    Thank you dear Shimon, nice walking, reading, have a nice day and weekend, Love, nia

    • I think the problem started when they build the new library. Seems they wanted to keep things new. It sounds crazy to me, but I haven’t heard a better explanation yet. How wonderful that you still find pressed flowers in your books, Nia. Sometimes I find a note or a letter that I tucked into a book, but it’s been a long time since I found a flower. Sorry to hear of your present difficulty with walking. But I’m sure you’ll be back to it soon. Once we learn to enjoy taking a walk, I think it stays with us forever. I used to hike distances, and that I can’t do anymore. But a walk is always one of the greatest pleasures. Best wishes to you, and a full and speedy recovery.

  11. I find it sad that the library would only want books published from a certain era. A library is such a wonderful place to get lost in, to self educate, to learn. Thank you for this post. Shabbat Shalom

    • Yes I agree, Lisa. I loved both to get lost and to find myself again and again in libraries. They were my favorite places. But they are changing these days. There are less ‘customers’, and their hours are getting shorter… My only hope is that as they are replaced, great treasures won’t be lost. Always good to hear from you, and best wishes for a happy chanukah.

  12. I suppose, because we live in a small town surrounded by other small towns, that the pace of change is slower. We all have lovely, old, and large libraries, crammed with bookshelves, but, of course, also crammed with CD’s, DVD’s and various computers…Still open every day but Sunday.

    I loved the story of your father, especially his creativity in fashioning that portrait of your mother. I would mourn its loss, too.

    I use my old camera, my digital, and my phone, but do favor my digital at this point in life. Your photography always charms me; I wish I could take a few lessons from you, Shimon!

    Blessings to you and joy on your walks and explorations.

    • Your small town, Kitty, sounds charming, and seems a wonderful place to live. As I’ve grown older, I care less for motorized transportation, and stay closer to home. And because I moved to a new neighborhood a few years ago, I try to take advantage of all this neighborhood offers me. In certain ways, it’s like a small town. But I am very lucky that I do have access to one of the finest libraries I’ve ever known in this very city where I live, and maybe it was unfair for me to complain. In any case, I wasn’t worried for myself, for I have a sizable library in my own home. I was thinking of the new generation. And I’m sure they’re always be a few eccentrics, who like myself, enjoy studying the past. Thank you so much for your comment, Kitty. It is very good to see your icon, and hear your thoughts.

  13. Our local authority actually sold off the county reference library on street stalls. Astonishingly dismal. And now so many of our public libraries in the UK are under threat. Their computers seem to be more of an attraction to library users than the books. And then there are our personal collections – and like you I am wondering what will become of them, or if there is anyone who will want to give them a good home. In the past I have sent books to Mali and the Gambia when charities have been making a concerted collection, and indeed many African countries are grateful to receive used books. We have also just returned from a couple of days in Hay on Wye – the second-hand book capital of Britain, if not the universe. Some of the stores in this small Welsh border town hold many thousands of books, so there is clearly a demand. It’s all very puzzling. Wishing you a good weekend and week ahead.

    • Thanks for the excellent suggestion, to contribute books to those parts of the world that are still interested in the printed page. Unfortunately, our language here is unknown to most of the world, but I do have some beloved books in European languages. It does seem that we are watching one age being replaced by another, and similar to the candles and oil lamps that were replaced by electricity a little more than a hundred years ago. For those of us who’ll always carry with us the spirit of the world we grew up in, the changes are sometimes painful. But I hope they will bring some solutions to problems that have been plaguing us since the beginning of written history. Thank you, Tish for your good wishes, and mine to you.

  14. So well written, Mr. Shimon. Your “newer library” has more books than the one we have here. Many libraries discard books that are in digital format or e-books to make rooms to create computer rooms and meeting rooms. It is sad to hear that she only wants new books for the library.

    • Yes, we are watching some radical changes, and it’s hard to guess where we’re going. I suppose that both libraries and museums will soon adopt different roles in urban lives. Just as motor cars replaced horses a while back, printed pages will be replaced by digital media. In some ways, it might be an improvement. And in my life, I am thankful for the opportunity to enjoy both worlds. Thanks so much Amy, for your comment.

  15. Second hand bookstores are the best to hand down used books. Libraries have to turn them down for many reasons. Pop up library posts with shelves in our country is now common, no volunteers required. Neighbours are more than happy to share the love of books and reading. I donated mine to Big Brothers. Some of them ended in a second hand store while I was browsing. Libraries is a great place just to be.

    • Libraries used to be a great place to spend time, Pilgrim. But they’re less so now because of the short hours, and a different attitude towards the books themselves. But you’re right, there are those who still treasure the old printed books, and these ‘pop up’ libraries as you call them, are very dear to me. I always stop and have a look when I go by.

    • Our Senior Centers also have libraries, where books are accepted and exchanged freely. Return if desired.

  16. Thanks to my grandfather for taking me to the library as a small child, I still love books and reading. A friend showed me the old library tucked away here and I love it. It’s stacked with old bookcases and books tumbling out and has a wide range of interesting, if not downright quirky ones. Bliss. I still need the feel of a book in my hand. Shalom Shimon.

    • Very good to hear from you, Jane. I too learned to love libraries as a small child. The one you describe reminds me of a number of such institutions that opened up the world to me. What I’m hoping, is that the bliss we knew in those libraries will still be available to the younger generation, despite all the stimuli they’re exposed to, that seems to me at times overwhelming.

  17. The words of the Sage were a kind of “prediction”. Yes, he surely was right: the world is changing every second… and it will until we (the humans) will receive what we deserve, self-annihilation.
    Every single day, I ask myself how long it will take until we reach the end… the point of “no-return” is already far away in the mists of our memory. We destroyed, we’re destroying and will destroy what God (or call it/him the Supreme Creator) gave us.
    I don’t believe that these changes happening in our lifetime are for a good purpose. Actually, I do miss my youth, the time strolling around with an apple in the woods or beside the lake, looking at the ducklings… few cars, no interferences of crowds, no cellphones. I was happy to have a hot soup for dinner or a plate of spaghetti with tomato sauce. We didn’t have television nor stereo, it was a luxury to listen to the radio. I had few clothes in my drawer. Mended and reused from my siblings. I was happy. My parents didn’t have enough money to afford me to continue studying. I was any way happy. What I achieved, I did it with many sacrifices, commitments, and hard work since the age of 15. I’m happy. But sad at the same time since I don’t see a good future for my kids.
    My dad and I, we shared the passion for painting… he wanted to study at Beaux Arts, as I did, but neither he or me did it. Still, I’m happy and even if my dad is since long gone, he’s in my heart with all his teachings.
    My dad loved books too… but when he finally had time to read, he was blind. I used to read aloud for him… and finally, somehow, the stories of our lives became a nice source of inspiration, reason why I started to write my own stories, aiming to change the world. It didn’t work out. But I’m still happy. And I don’t regret my past, my present… only about my future I’m uncomfortable.
    About all the books my dad and I collected since around 1930, oh yeah, old books which smell like old printed paper, I guess I’ll leave them to a Foundation. My husband and I, we already gave our support as volunteers in Africa (and many of my English books are now in Voi – Kenya https://claudinegiovannoni.com/racconti-short-stories/ricordi-memories/). We will keep doing such actions since there are many people needing help… And doing this, it makes me happier. I can’t understand the need to have “new” books when the old one’s are given away with love. Maybe over there, in your country, there aren’t people in need? I don’t know, Shimon, I guess I’m starting to become too old to be willing to understand.
    May health and love be always at your side… 🙂 claudine

    • Dear Claudine, I agree with you that we ourselves are temporary beings in this world, and so is the world itself temporary, from an astronomical perspective. The sun itself will eventually burn out, and our planet will cease to exist. But must we hold this over our heads at all times? Isn’t it a bit harsh to blame ourselves for our natural flaws which we carry with us from time immemorial? It’s true, that as the pendulum swings, we go from poverty to riches. And very often the riches turn us into pigs. We take for granted all that we can amass for ourselves, and forget he beauty and the awe of simplicity. But this too is our nature. Does it make sense for me to angrily chastise my cat for killing a bird? This is the world we were given, and with it came the never ending pain of disharmony between the paradise that we wish for and the reality of the world around us. As for the purpose… the purpose of life? Who knows the answer to that one. Did you ever have the opportunity to see that wonderful English satire, ‘The Meaning of Life’? I laughed so well seeing that movie. Thank god for laughter, along with the most spiritual moments. I’m moved by the thought that you had the privilege to read to your father when his eyes grew too weak to read himself. Like yourself, there are a lot of things that have come into this world that are hard for me to adjust to. But the way I see it, just as we grew from children to adults, and then to the maturity of later age… and eventually to old age, the same process is what the world as we know it is going through. It’s the self-realization of the world. And for me, it is enough to watch and learn, and celebrate even what I can’t understand. Thank you for your comment.

      • It’s always a privilege and a pleasure to be here, even if only virtually, reading your enlighted post and comments. I wish one day to get a chance to meet you, have a hot cup of tea, play with Nachema (did I well remember her name?)
        Since more than 30 years I didn’t see Jerusalem and I know my old mom would like to see these places deeply connected to christianity.
        But I don’t make plans too much in advance…
        Last summer, my son Emanuele Giosuè did meet Dina and spent two weeks with her family 🙂 and now is my turn to meet her too… but Jerusalem is still on my list!
        I don’t know the English satire ‘The Meaning of Life’ in true, I don’t like very much satire at all, and Monty python is a kind of “black” fun about serious matter (I coun’t see till the end the “Life of Brian”).
        As far as you have fun reading/watching something, it is good for your health! And I heard that laugh make you feel good :-)c

  18. I recently had a similar problem. For years now I have donated books to my local library, mainly those bought in charity shops. My library closed for a refurbishment for a few months and when it reopened I was told they no longer accept books from the public. They also prefer newer books. Still, the charity shops are happy to sell them on. I did enjoy seeing your volunteer library’s on the streets, what a wonderful thing.
    The world is changing so quickly these days, my father told me of his crystal set that came before the radio, I often wonder what he would make of life these days.
    Oh what a shame about that image your father produced, how ingenious though. Did you photograph it? I would like to see it. xxx

    • Oh Dina, you do bring some tender memories to me. My first radio too, was a crystal set which I built myself. There was already a ‘real radio’ in the house, but when I discovered that it was possible to build one myself I did so at once, and this allowed me to listen even when I was lying in bed. Yes, the world was always changing, but the changes seem to be speeding up… and darn it, wouldn’t it happen just as I was getting old and conservative! I say that with a smile, because I’m so happy to see it all… even if I can’t enjoy it all. As fir the picture my father made of my mother’s image, lost forever… I didn’t even photograph it. It’s one of those lessons that stay with me. xxx

  19. I had new autographed books, but the library didn’t want them because they were romance novels. I stopped going to the library when they didn’t have any of my favorite authors. I prefer paperbacks I can hold; they never ‘crash,’ and the batteries never die. 🙂

    • I regret to inform you, Judy, but though paperbacks don’t crash and their batteries don’t die, it’s almost as bad when you pick up an old paperback you loved, to have another visit, and the pages float through the air like the leaves of a tree in autumn, with a little wind. Not to speak of some of the insects that show interest in our literary prizes. I know just how attached a person can get to books… but really, it’s the human being on the other side of the pages that has poured out his heart. And that can travel from one heart to another by way of digital code too. Thanks for your comment.

      • True enough. In fact, I can’t handle old books because I’m allergic to that musty, old book smell. However, cloves in a plastic bag, along with the book, help with the smell. Bay leaves help with the bugs. 🙂

  20. Good one Shimonz.
    “When things get a little easier, we unconsciously search out difficulty.”
    I love this line.

  21. Lengthy post!! Managed to read completely .And the post is just amazing 😀

  22. Shimon, I enjoyed reading this post as well as the many comments it inspired. Thanks for stopping by my blog and reading my post on Ashkelon. I looked at it again and it made me smile. Thanks for reminding me!

    • Thank you very much for your comment, Esther. Yes, our posts remain as a written record, sometimes after we’ve forgotten about them. It was a pleasure discovering your writing, and reading a number of your posts. I wonder if you continue to spend part of your time here in Israel. In any case, my best wishes for a very joyous holiday

  23. That old tradition of learning to draw is wonderful, and now, kids learn how to pass tests and have very little time to get outdoors and play, let alone draw. On the other hand, they are learning better lessons about respecting people who are different than I ever did in school. Your story about the library is sad but not surprising. There are similar libraries around here, but there are also some that would accept any books with open arms. And there are terrific second hand bookstores here, too, lots of them. You can bring a bag of books in, get cash on the spot, and turn around and buy a few books at half the retail price. Very civilized! 🙂

    • Sometimes it is hard to guess whether we’re on a pendulum, going this way and that with the generations, or whether we are witnessing some changes which will eventually bring about a world altogether unlike that which we grew up in. I can appreciate the advantages of the digital book. I just hope that the young will still have the wide variety of sources that I enjoyed, including old records and old thoughts. We still have some used book stores here, and I delight in finding an old book occasionally that I missed. How wonderful it is to live in a civilized country. You’re so right there.

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