Sunday, March 6, 2011

Of Books and Time

When I was about five- or six-years-old, I remember a Sunday afternoon in Las Vegas, watching "My Turn on Earth" with my siblings. There's a song toward the end of the musical that talks about how fleeting life is. One line of the song says that there are "stories that you will never hear."

I distinctly remember hearing that line and thinking, in my proud, world-conquering, naive, five-year-old way, "Nu-uh. Maybe they can't read every book in the world, but I will." Yes, my friends, at five-years-old, I was determined to read every book in the world.

And I meant it.

What I don't remember is when I found out that it would be physically IMPOSSIBLE to read every book in the world. Not only would you have to learn every language known to man, but how could you possibly even KNOW how many books there are in the world?

Even eliminating every book in another language, it would still be impossible for me to read every book in the English language.

I am reminded of my childhood goal the other day when I'm in the Harold B. Lee Library.

The Harold B. Lee Library has over 98 miles of shelving for over 6 million items in its collections.

I believe over 3 million of these items are books.

The 5th floor alone overwhelms me with the mountains of information, stories, books, and knowledge there for the taking.

And just like the 5th floor of the library, hearing about and choosing life experiences can be so overwhelming for me. There are so many options--so many good options--that it can be a bit saddening to know that I can never experience every good thing. People tell me about good things that have happened or are happening in their life and I think, "Oh! I want that! I want that experience, too!" And I know that if I went for it, I could have that experience and I would be blessed for it.

But there is only so much time. There is only so much I can do. There are only so many books I can read.

So I guess the challenge is finding the best things for me to do. There is a plan I am following, of course, and I hope that my choices are aligned with what God would have me do. But even then, those choices must be filtered through "good, better, and best."

That's hard to do. It's hard to say no to good experiences. It's hard to realize that I can't read every book in the world.

But I think there is a beauty in wanting it all, too. My five-year-old self still yearns to know it all, to experience it all, to embrace and love the world and sing every song. It is this yearning that encourages me to grow and to keep going on, especially during dark times.

And I hope that I can learn to combine this thirst for life with choosing the best of life. It's no easy task.

But it's one that I'm excited to try.

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