Youth Knows What Wisdom Realizes it Does Not

As a self-declared dork in addition to self-declared glutton I have been characterized as someone who (appropriately enough) “eats” books.

This observation was made by my favorite Italian PhD after returning a book the day after I borrowed it.  My love for reading does indeed correspond to a devouring of books.  My tastes do run a little to the geeky side with a decided dearth of best sellers.  (Don’t let that make you think I don’t enjoy certain indulgences like Eat, Pray, Love which I absolutely loved or my collection of Jane Austen novels.)

My wanderings have taught me that reading the same book/play/novel/short story again and again over the years is most decidely NOT an exercise in futility or a waste of time.  The same Shakespeare I read at 13 then at 16 then at 19 bla bla bla yielded new insights with every reading.

We grow and change with every additional experience we have so our rewards from a single work of literature are not limited to a one time experience.  With every additional piece of wisdom we acquire or every lesson that we learn our viewpoint is altered and who we are as a person is changed.  Youth knows what wisdom realizes it does not.

As a youngster I often wondered why my father kept all those old books.  As an adult I realized exactly why he had kept them.  I also realized that going back again and again to works that had stood the test of time is always a great use of your time…except that now the reading is often accompanied by a glass of wine.  I have books I have read close to 10 times and I have no plans of getting rid of them.  I will continue to go back again and again.

Why?

I know that I have more mistakes to make and more lessons to learn in the journey that is my life.  This means that at some point I will actually understand most of The Wasteland and Elliot will not make me want smack my head on the desk repeatedly.  It also means that every book becomes a well-thumbed friend, the kind of friend that allows you to make your mistakes, consoles you, and never says, “I told you so.”

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