Alternative title: “The Rhinoceros and the Mirror”
Sometimes your life is so close to you that you can’t see a thing. There are too many alarms, calendars, schedules, and deadlines. Time runs by at a furious rate, with cell phones and work and Sunday nights in front of the TV taking up so much of your existence that… well, it’s impossible to step aside and say, “What’s really going on?”
There’s a problem, but you think it’s your imagination. At times it’s a tickle, a flicker, a blurred feeling or slight shadow of movement and nothing more. A problem isn’t real until it exists.
At times you can’t avoid it. There’s that rhinoceros in the living room and no reflection in the bathroom mirror. Rhinoceros? No reflection? God knows there’s something wrong. But you ignore the beast and absent self and maintain pace with the rest of the world. There’s no time for questions.
Occasionally you know. “Why is there a rhino in my living room, and why am I invisible in my mirror?” That’s when you stop to shake your head. There’s a deeper dilemma here, and you see it all too clearly. You have a Predicament.
What does this predicament look like? It’s not a rhino or a mirror. They’re just symptoms. Look around you! What do you see? Is it something vague, like a blood-red pigment that’s taken over your reality, with tendrils so woven into life’s details that Existence itself seems to bleed? (That’s a mouthful, sorry.) Or is the problem a pressed-down sack you carry on your shoulder each day? What’s your predicament? What problem crops up each time you stop and wonder where you are?
Once you know this, close your eyes, your existential eyes, and listen as the story unfolds…
The library of libraries is a book-filled paradise. Its walls carry the testimonies of all humans, those who’ve lived and those who will live. Each soul has his own book.
Your Book is thick with a hundred thousand words, your name printed in bright blue letters across the cover.
What’s your Book about? Where does it start, and where does it take you? What’s the tone? What vocabulary does it employ? Are there photos, pictures, graphs, musical notes, drawings, stickers (the kind that smell good), and CD’s? Is it written for you, or by you?
Chances are you don’t have the answers to these questions. We are the actors in our own plays, and we never get to read the script. All you know is there’s a rhinoceros in the living room, you can’t see yourself in the mirror, and you’re struggling with a Predicament. That’s enough already.
By profession he reads: that’s what a Reader does.
The Reader doesn’t speak English, but that doesn’t matter. Your book is written in his idiom, and he knows it’s a page-turner. The Reader takes your book off the shelf.
He knows nothing of your culture. Maybe he’s from the past, a remnant from the high Classical period 2500 years ago. The Reader doesn’t understand the function of a cell phone, the meaning of identity theft, or how child support payments fit into the way things work. The terms “TV” and “Bitcoin” mean nothing to him. Online education and Tweeter-driven politics don’t, either.
Or perhaps this Reader is from a faraway future instead, a place where internet and microchips have long since been replaced. He doesn’t understand cell phones, identity theft, or child support payments either, and the terms “TV” and “Bitcoins” still mean nothing to him. Online education and Tweeter-driven politics are as foreign to him as his world is to you.
The Reader knows only wisdom, objectivity, and compassion, and he offers you these as solace. They’re gifts.
He finds a comfortable spot and starts reading.
Your book is filled with secrets, each unfolding beneath his fingers like a letter of confession, but he’s not here to judge. He might not understand every reference and supposition, but the Reader knows too much about life to render opinion. He knows you’ve suffered.
He reads of your triumphs and passions. They also unfold as he turns the page, this time standing out like proud parents sharing your greatest trophies. His compassion drives him to lean back, shake his head, and smile. Each new discovery, every good act, all goals and dreams you imagined and reached, they all make your story worthwhile. Even then, he rests on your successes temporarily. It’s the Now he’s after.
Continue to Part 2 of Imagery: the man who reads