Friday, July 01, 2011

Creativity, Thought and Relationship

Mariel is volunteering at a local library this summer. We love this library. I did in-home daycare the first few years of Aravis' and Mariel's life, and I have fond memories of into this grand old library with a double stroller of toddlers, flanked by preschoolers, for the weekly puppet show. At the time it was a huge undertaking to get the kids there and help them be quiet, but now all I remember is the excitement of a *real* puppet show every single week. Back then, the children's section was in one wing and the adult section in another. There was an atrium garden near the adult stacks, with a creek running through it-- the wonder of nature flourishing indoors.

They remodeled the library several years ago. The puppet show theater is gone, as is the atrium garden. But we still love it. So many memories. Now they have moved the children's and adult's sections closer together, so it is simpler for mommies to peruse big-person books while their children read at tables in the kids' section. And it is very, very quiet. I don't know how they do it with the two sections so close together. But it is like a monastery in there.

The children's section of the other library we visit is definitely not quiet.

You might wonder why we ever go to a different library when we are so happy with ours. Well, we no longer live within the city limits, and our favorite library requires that nonresidents pay a yearly fee to check out books. I don't blame them. We don't pay taxes in that city. But it makes me sad. I have even contemplated paying the fee. We haven't done it yet, so we find ourselves owning the experience of one library and checking out books at another.

Anyway, Mariel is volunteering at our library and having a great time. One of us drives her into town a couple times per week, and, if we don't have any errands, we stay and absorb the atmosphere. Without library cards, we cannot check anything out, nor can we avail ourselves of the computers or video games. This places us in the unusual position of having nothing to do but sit in the beautiful, blessed quiet and read books. I don't even hear the psychic noise of chores crying out to be done or bills to be paid: we aren't at home. I love that library. :)

Right now, Cornflower and I have a game going. For the first hour or so at the library, we each do our own thing. Then one of us finds Sister Wendy's Story of Painting and brings it to the other. Using the two-page spreads that are all-over detail from this or that painting (how we love those pages), we try to guess the painter and painting. (At first I thought Cornflower was just humoring me, but then she started bringing me the book and I knew the game belonged to both of us.)

This week I found a book called Hamlet's Blackberry: A Practical Philosophy for Building a Good Life in the Digital Age. It is appropriate that I first read this book in the quiet of our library. William Powers gently argues that more is not necessarily better; perhaps we need space between digital encounters in order to obtain a satisfying depth of creativity, thought and relationship. He goes back to philosophers like Plato and Thoreau and, obviously, Shakespeare, in search of fit principles for our digital age.

I have only read a third of the book, but next week, in between rounds of the painting game, I will have more time to read. I've found a quiet space and I am taking advantage of it.

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