Thursday, December 29, 2011

My Life's an Open Bookshelf - Part One


There's something about the approach of a new year that sets a man to thinking - sets him to looking back over the year past and forward to the year ahead - to where he's been and where he's going. And to put each of them into proper perspective, past and future, he need also assess where, and what, he is today. It's not always an easy thing to do. Fortunately, this year I have my bookshelves.

You can lean a lot about someone by looking at the contents of their bookshelves. And it’s not just the book titles, though they are important clues, but it’s the mementos and pieces that a person chooses to place in constant sight that bear the inklings of identity. And my inklings are fresh. Our new abode is appointed with a space I can call my own – a man cave, if you will, though I dislike the term – and its pair of bookshelves - more display space than library - are newly populated. They're still neat. What do their contents reflect?

Indulge me.


The stuff on top takes me back. The Fender acoustic was given to me many years ago by my then best friend, now my wife, and still my best friend. I'd put the axe down years before but always admired the instrument, and she knew it. The gift awakened my interest and confirmed how much she understood me. Scary.

The photo, of course, is of Mr. Jimi and is particularly relevant in that it was captured on April 11th, 1969 at Dorton Arena in Raleigh, NC. Relevant, you see, because I could have taken it. I was that close. Fourteen years old, first rock concert, third row, stage right, blown away. Nothing like starting at the top. The print was a Christmas gift from my stepsons who share my love of music and, despite his being years before their time, also appreciate the Voodoo Child. How could they not?


The top shelves are "display" shelving and the right holds a vintage Time-Life Series book on the camera. It seems to me that there's a bit of obtuse circular logic about pictures of cameras, but that's for another time. The book's images are fascinating and its photographic advice - though predating the digital revolution and in-camera metering by decades - is what separates the point-and-shooters from real photographers. Just because the camera's smart, it doesn't mean you should let it do all the thinking. 

The plaque is a new acquisition - a memento from this year's high school squad. You'd have to look close, but the next-to-the-bottom-line reads 2011 NC 4A State Champions

'nough said.



On the other side is some very special literature. Calvin and Hobbes. The pages are dogeared from hours spent sharing with my two young sons, some thirty years ago. There are cartoons in these books that, even today, make me laugh 'till I cry and there are memories saturating the faded pages that make me cry 'till I laugh. In Calvin I saw each of my boys and in Hobbs I saw myself. Still do. No one has captured the raw energy and creativity of a young manchild any better.

Well, I see that getting through these bookshelves is going to take a while. So, with your permission, I'll stop here and return to it in future posts. One must do something during the cold winter months. I hope you don't mind the glimpse into what makes Mike tick.

And before I return, take a look at the bookshelves of your life. Appreciate what you find. Decide what they say about you - where you've been, where you're going, what you are. 

Let that self knowledge lead you into a Happy New Year.


8 comments:

schnitzerPHOTO said...

I enthusiastically agree with your point made on cameras and photography! It is also the basis for that thread of hope to which I hang: good photographs will continue to be made by good photographers, and remain readily distinguishable from the growing swarms of snapshots.

Keep yourself entertained, my friend, and thanks for the thought-provoking post. -R

Howard Levett said...

Really nice story Mike. I look forward to upcoming tour.

Sanders said...

I really enjoyed the post. It's funny that you wrote this, Bridget had me go through our bookshelf the other day (nothing more than routine cleaning) but it was fun to organize again what was to be displayed proudly, and what could be relocated to more remote locations.

I look forward to more from the bookshelf.

JGR said...

Nice post. My bookshelves have too much crap on it, that's all I know. JGR

e.m.b. said...

A person's bookshelves are windows into their soul...thanks for this peek into yours.

Here's to a good year...full of many books. Open, and closed.

Ken G said...

Sitting 20 feet from a speaker system at a Led Zeppelin concert in 1975, is why the hearing in my right ear is screwed up. Couldn't completely hear for 3 days afterward. 1969 I was 13 and seeing Hendrix then would have been wonderful. I was playing Voodoo Child in my head just the other day.

It's funny how at our age, books seem to define us more. I have that whole Time/Life Photography collection, other books from when I was a kid. My daughters don't do that as much.

For laughs now and then, I gently take out Issue #1 of Zap comix. We were so sick back then to think some of that stuff was funny.

Have a good New Year Mike.

walt franklin said...

Hi Mike, Ah bookshelves, look and know a wonderful strategy toward an introspection of a life and where it's headed. 1969, I was a bit older then and had my head turned around with a live "I Put a Spell on You," by Credence. My son absolutely loved and collected "Calvin..." and has read complete Tolkien about 10 times. I looked into the depths of our natural world way back then and haven't stopped loving it, writing about it, fly-fishing and hiking till I drop. Great posts, Mike, read and fish forever!

TC/Trout Underground said...

What you'd learn about me is that I rarely dust.