I had this really interesting conversation with a friend once, and it went something like this:
We were discussing what things we could live without and which things we couldn’t… say… if the world as we know it came to an end in five minutes. What things would we pick up and carry with us? Which things would be left behind as we ran for shelter or battered down the hatches? Which items would we know we’d have to steal from wherever to keep ourselves alive?
And which things might not necessarily seem like important life-altering choices at that moment, but would be brought anyway because ETERNITY IS A LONG ASS TIME.
We got down to some of the basics: weapons (for protection), water and food (for nourishment), clothes (for warmth and protection from the elements), etc… You know… the usual. Then we got the real nitty-gritty. Would there be usable electricity somewhere or would the almighty computer/laptop/smartphones/tablet/e-reader/etc have to left by the wayside? We decided – for argument’s sake – that we would have some form of electricity or power, even if for a short space of time, so we added in—well I added in my laptop; she, her smartphone and kindle—and left it at that.
Then I said, “And I would need to find somewhere to store all my books. An underground bunker or something left over from the trillions of wars we’ve had.”
And she said, “You must be joking. After everything else, you still want more books? What about your kindle?”
And I was like, “What about it?”
She said: “Isn’t that enough? We’ve already established that we’ll have electricity. You can just download as many books as you can onto that and you’ll have your books! Plus on your laptop!”
And all I could say was: “It’s not enough.”
It made me realize, quite profoundly, how much books, reading, entertainment and intellectual stimulation in some form, shape, or otherwise effects MY life, and hopefully that of all others everywhere. I mean, where would we be without the written word? Where would we be without the stimulation of stories told by campfire or bedside at night; when we’re not feeling well and have nothing else to do; on long vacations or business trips where we really don’t want to do anything but relax and stay put for longer than five minutes? Where would we be without the wondrous tales told from the minds of crazy, fantastic individuals who chose to share their stories, their gifts with us… printed upon the pages of our most beloved treasures: books.
Be they printed text or electronic ones, books fuel the imagination and enrich the soul.
How could we possibly think such mastery of craft and mind and wonder would not be as important and necessary to us as food, water, and clothing?