Books are the most incredible escape hatches life has to offer, but they are never taken as seriously as they should be. I cherish the freedom they give me and the choices to read and write what I feel at a moments notice. There is also a solid, reassuring feeling when I run my fingers up the back of my unkindled books, where everything is put together on the spine. I am grounded as I hold each word in my mind, and just like that well read book, my own spine keeps me connected to life through bones and muscle, comma and dangling participle all of which make up who I am. Of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t insert here the over used, parental lesson of “Judging a Book By its Cover.”
We have all heard, ignored and been needlessly shocked by this lesson, as we punch our library cards of life. The best time I ever heard it delivered though was in the Rocky Horror Picture Show. Tim Curry, in his alter-ego and RKO driven persona Dr. Frank-N-Furter croons in goose bumping and grinding to Janet, about not judging Riff-Raff like a book by his covah. Not a nod to a Jewish tradition, just one from humanity with a tease attached. I wonder how many in the audience picked up the reference of “Riff-Raff?” a phrase also overly used in growing up; referencing those unsavory and unwritten characters awaiting us in life. Personally, I like the flavor Curry implied and got the message crystal clear. Sadly, too many don’t and they miss a chance of having some of the best experiences in their life all because they stop short of a tattoo, disability, religious or racial judgment call. Damnit Janet!
Rocky Horror changed more than a few generations for other reasons I realize, not to mention the use of a squirt gun, piece of toast and a roll of toilet paper. It is a fact however; books and those pesky covers certainly are always around us. Everyday, we talk in book language filled with characters, plots and summaries, as we take on new chapters in our life. Just ask yourself, in true Illustrated Man and Fahrenheit 451 spirit, if I were to start telling the story of Goldilocks and the 3 Bears, you know your mind could see the pictures move, emotionally feel the words and verbally finish it. Loved books feed our brain and imagination, keeping us company. When it is one from our childhood, it has made an impact we needed the most, even if we didn’t know it at the time.
Sadly, many people take shortcuts both in life and in books, picking up a DVD or just taking another person’s adventures as their own – seriously, I hate reality television! By doing this, it becomes the difference between a good dinner and some Twinkies. When dinner is cooking and you’re hungry, it’s nice to go in and smell everything, maybe sneak a taste because you can’t wait. That’s also a good book and really living. You might read the back cover, run your feet on wet grass, find the story and characters, and suddenly you are unable to wait for what is next.
Choose a DVD or avoid that road untaken experience and what do you get? Twinkies! Sure you can have sweet white frosting and cake anytime, you don’t wait for them to be done and if you put one down, it will be the same as you left it. But there is nothing like a hot, fresh dinner. Also, if you eat too many Twinkies your dinner is spoiled and you aren’t hungry anymore, and if the DVD version made you sick, you’ve already” judged the book by how it was covered,” and assumed it to be a waste of your time. How tragic! Because just like a hot, healthy dinner making your body full, and working better – a good book, relationship or adventure will do the same for your imagination, heart and soul. You also get the chance to think and feel raw emotions as you discover new things.
Right now, stop and open that book and your life. Begin an adventure you can add to your own history, passing it on someday – maybe with the person you are sitting next to, and share the day as well. Wow what a concept – life imitating art all in one. Because, whatever stories and experiences you choose to store in the library of your brain, they will define the type person you become, and like the Velveteen Rabbit, as you become real, so will your “covah” decorating the lives of everyone you encounter.
Yes, grabbing Twinkies once in a while is a guilty pleasure, like a comic book, sitcom or party of epic proportions. But when you sit down and enjoy a hot and flavorful meal tasting life, you get so much more. Just like an unassuming, unknown or titillating book you keep meaning to read, there is also individual you have yet to find or maybe have already misjudged, but yet they continue to page you, hoping you will try something new in your life.
Start a fresh chapter.
Check out my new book, “My Life Has Been A Waist”