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I read recently that you can sharpen your mental abilities by learning a new language. I decided I would start slowly by learning one word from an unfamiliar language each year. My 2020 word is Tsundoku. Tsundoku is a word of Japanese origin, which explains why there is a totally useless T at the beginning of the word. The literal definition of Tsundoku is “a reading pile.” This new word is useful to me, as I can announce proudly that I have a Tsundoku in every room of my house, whereas, I would be hesitant to announce that I have a house full of reading piles.
I love real books. By real books, I mean the kind with flimsy pages to flip and strong stiff spines. The kind you tend to hold in both hands and occasionally hug to your chest. I’m not crazy about e-books as I like to calculate how many more chapters there are before the end of a book and how many pages there are before the end of each chapter. The Japanese, also, have a word for people who count chapters and pages. Tnutty!
I find friends in books. There are authors who create characters so real that I want to add those characters’ names to my Christmas card list. There is also a predictable pattern to the completing of a book which mirrors the pattern of a developing friendship or of a lasting love. The first chapters of a book are so warm and utterly inviting that you can hardly pull yourself away. When you must move on to necessary tasks, your thoughts remain on this new relationship. You ponder the time that you have spent. You rehearse the unfamiliar phrases you have heard, and you install wisdom that you have learned into your being. As the relationship progresses you come to desire that this connection continue forever. You find comfort and joy between its covers. There are always questions yet to be asked and mysteries yet to be solved when, once again, you engage yourself with that book, or that friendship. When you must place the book aside, it is with great expectation of the next time you will again be in its presence, enjoying its company.
Unfortunately, at some point, you notice with sadness the shortness of pages left to read. Your time with this friend is drawing to a close. A part of you hesitates.
Don’t read further, take longer pauses between readings, slow things down and make this relationship last longer. But, you are drawn in, and despite your best
intentions, you continue, unable to stop, though you know you are hastening the end of a beautiful relationship. Then, predictably I suppose, but always too abruptly, the story ends, as all stories must. The tale is told, the story you had hoped would continue forever. Perhaps, there will be a sequel. You look for one, hope for one. Sometimes, one is found, but each volume begins and ends as does the one before it, leaving you longing for more, until eventually, there are no more sequels. Just a doneness that forces you to continue on without the companionship with which you had become so accustomed, so satisfied, and so warmed. There is only one problem with a good book, and that is that just as every satisfying relationship, it ends too soon. Nothing last forever, but the eternal soul and our longings for relationship. That explains my tendency toward Tsundokus. In them, I always have a stack of friends yet to meet.
Submitted by Carolyn Primm