In need of an activity for a melancholy mood? Go to a library. Pick an aisle of floor-to-ceiling books and walk down it, running your fingertips along the spines. Go slowly and, as you go, consider how every single book on these shelves was a huge enormous deal to its author: likely one of the biggest accomplishments/excitements of the author's life.
Imagine the huge amount of work that went into the writing and submitting of the manuscript, the thrill of hearing the book had been chosen for publication, the frantic stress of editing and decision-making, the anticipation of publication day---and at last, the book in the author's hands! Their OWN BOOK! THEIR words on REAL pages!! A dream come true at last! And then the reports coming in of sales! The commissions! The excitement, perhaps, of interviews and book-signings! The parties with friends and family!
And now the book sits with rows of other authors' dreams come true on library shelves, and hardly anyone reads them even when they can do so for free, and most of the authors' names are completely unrecognizable. And in a few more decades the books will be in the "Fill a bag for a dollar!!" library sale, and still no one will want them, and they'll be recycled. A few decades after that, a few of the books will show up in antique stores where, again, most will be passed over even though they're only $2 and are Snapshots Of An Earlier Time.
It is not a very cheery thought, to see all the NOTHING everything comes to after so few years. On the other hand, sometimes it is good to put accomplishment goals into perspective: even if those goals ARE accomplished, will they be as marvelous as expected, or less so? and then what NEXT? Another book to be quickly forgotten? A new, loftier goal?
I have a feeling the letdown after achieving a Big Goal is worse than postpartum or postwedding: so much anticipation and such fervent hopes, coming to something that turns out, once obtained, to be surprisingly ordinary. And that can be encouraging and perspective-straightening to think of, particularly if the goal never IS achieved---and if it is achieved, good to think of ahead of time to reduce the letdown.
Gift ideas for an 8-year-old, part 2 of 2 - Last week I talked about the gifts we were getting/considering for Edward, who is turning 8 next month. This week it’s Elizabeth’s turn: not “girl gifts,” ...