A Mirror World

Books are in many ways perfect metaphors for the whole of human relationship. They are baked within us, forming and reforming until we can see a shape we wish to translate into words on a page. Then the thing is written and it is outside of us, and it is both what we imagined and not what we imagined, but something worth sharing nonetheless, an imperfect but worthwhile reflection of what we find valuable about life. And so another person holds this in their hands, and it too is outside of them, this book that is neither you nor them. But then this other person reads the first sentence of the reflection of what you found valuable, and as they read they are not outside themselves anymore, they are traveling by your guidance back to the well of imagination, back to where everything is born and remembered.

We live our lives absolutely surrounded by stuff. We are surrounded by houses and books and cars and clothes and restaurants and thimbles and cookie sheets and televisions. We live our lives picking these things up and putting them down, stumbling over them, complaining about them and celebrating them. There is so much stuff, it can seem as if our very lives are comprised of it all, this stuff that we want and don’t want, the books we love and the books we don’t.

It is easy to see why we mistakenly call this stuff valuable. Not just because some of the stuff keeps us warm and fed and dry, but because of all of it was put there by someone who wanted to share what he or she found valuable. But the things themselves, even the books, are nothing – they have no value whatsoever. Like every mirror, those things you hold in your hands are all empty until you appear in them.

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