of Books and Book Keeping

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I wonder how you are with books. I think with all your minutes between the appointments in your calendar, you must always have one near at hand. I wonder what they are...

Lately, it has been my time to pack the books. This is NOT an easy task.

I've always loved my books. I used to sleep with my books. When I was a little girl, I would go to the library every Saturday and check out 6-10 books. I read constantly, and was never without a book. I was so tiny - 58 pounds in 8th grade - and I used to carry all of these heavy books around. I laugh when I think back on it. What a sight!

I traveled light for a number of years. Everything I owned fit into the back seat of a small car until I was 26 and met Galen. I had only a couple of boxes of books, but as soon as I was able to generate the stability to own a bookcase, I began the accretion process.

I'm not sure what's more interesting about the books - the ones I'm keeping, or the ones I've given away.

Books that have left imply, in a sense, phases of my life that are over - or, at least, the parts that I've assumed on at least one particular day, that are "over", or over enough, at any rate. In fact, if I look closely at the categories as I pack them, perhaps I can discern something new about myself. Since I kept the books that I thought were most important to me, what remains is a kind of map that covers what I value exploring.

I've done two serious culls in the last year, and the last one was ruthless - about a month ago. Since then, the events of September 11th and September 13th have completely altered my world.

I keep books. Some - mostly classics - I store in the Libraries and on the Web. They're within reach of the proper levels of interest and wisdom, should I ever attain those.

Some I need to hold, because they're never in libraries. Memmi, obscure Shaw like "The Intelligent Woman's Guide to Socialism and Capitalism" or "The Adventures of the Black Girl in her Search for God"; "The Iron Heel" by Jack London.

Some I need to hold, because I never know when I'll want to touch them, but I do - Emerson,, Borges, Bucky Fuller, O'Henry, Gyatzo, et.al. who touch somehow on everything, and various folk who dive deeply down one long row - the physicists and logicians and mathematicians (the Reasoners - gosh, remember when math was actually "reasoning", and the numbers were simply a vehicle for teaching a system that stacked ideas amongst and against one another? - how sad that it just devolved into numbers...) who have books that I dip in and out of, like a woman at an ever-over-flowing well.

I feel a lot of muddiness when I get to my plant books. I am not finished with my plants.

This is interesting to me, and I wonder what form it will take. As I think about the future right now, I don't feel myself trending toward any future that holds the Collection in a significant way. That's curious.

My bond with the plants and the Conservancy, and the future I saw that used to hold them, is very weak. I've made a huge investment of time, money, and vision into this project, and it's odd that the extent of my plan involves (eventually) being in the States a few times a year, and spending a few weeks each season in Eugene.

I think that my love for this work with the Conservancy was harmed somewhat because of the downward slide of my business coincident with trying to grow the Conservancy. The loss of income from the store, modest as it always was, meant that I had no time to deal properly with the Collection, or develop it, and instead I was forced to dismantle much of what I'd built to hold it and move it forward.

Great fortune smiled when I found a way to establish the bulk of the Collection in one of our nearby city parks. The land is watered, and fenced, and lit, and tended, and my job is to plant the plants, manifest some vision, and create something that people can enjoy for a long time. I haven't yet found the energy to do more than the rudiments, but I have laid paths, and planted over 200 plants, established the basic beds.

With the rest of the Collection established up the river, and the space up there being conducive to retreat, I can see a time when I'll just come back to wander around the mature garden ...

I imagine taking the books to the store, and continuing to open an official Medicinal Plant Conservancy office there. I really should do that. I have this wonderful loft space upstairs in the Red Barn. If I want the Conservancy to gather energy so that it can maintain without me, I need to give the energy a place to come to.

And still, I continue to cart around the plant books.

All of the psychotherapy and self-help books are gone - What does that mean? I wonder...Is it that I'm "fixed", or that I've simply decided to give up on such a thing, at least through these sorts of words, these afterthought clothes of others that may fit, if I try them on - and that I may not be able to get off...There was a Grimm Tale to that effect, I believe. Pinkola-Estes referred to it.

I couldn't part with a couple of old friends in the Head Department, of course, but the focus is less on the software of the brain theories, and more about the wetware explorations. Julian Jaynes and his "Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bi-Cameral Mind" stays - what a concept at the time! Jung went. Charles Tart stays. NLP went. Mindell stays. McKenna went. Shulgin stays. hmmmm.

Human social theory breaks down into the Leavers: Bookchin, McKibben, Illich, Chomsky, Nearing, the Feminists, the Anarchists, actually, most of the Ists, including most of the Taoists... the Stayers: Fairy Tales, Native Myths, Original religious texts, ... Interesting that the stories endure, and the analysis doesn't.

The physics stays. Ah, yes. "The Pheezzeex" Nick would say, showing teeth and adding a little hiss at the end of the phrase. The music. The numbers. Things in lines, like geometry, and architecture, Thelonius Monk and the I Ching. Intervalic and punctuated, like the Mayan Calendar and Modal Music. Periodic, like the Cosmic Chemistries of Walter Russell and Rudolph Steiner; of Godel and Goethe; like my own periodic table, drawn once at the end of a fever, and a window Out There ever since.

The books are fewer now, but in their reduced numbers, they seem no lighter. Brighter, perhaps. More doorway now than ever. More like those thoughts I'd had as a little girl, dreaming of the day when every page of every book would touch every other page, and I could wander for hours and not have to go home, ever again.

-- Anonymous, October 16, 2001

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