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If You Can Keep Your Head...

If You Can Keep Your Head...

Starting from early childhood I had a love for books. In sixth grade we had to memorize the poem "If" by Rudyard Kipling. I had already read the poem before sixth grade and the assignment. As I look at our leaders today I wonder "If" any of them have ever read it, much less committed it to memory or taken it to heart.

I do not read books in the usual way. I gave up early trying to explain to anyone how I read because no one really believed me. It wasn't until my senior year in high school that I attended a class and how I was reading started to make sense to me. Even then, I did not really speak of it.

Several years after Dora and I married she started noticing how I was reading. She had handed me something to read and after a quick glance I handed it back. She didn't believe I read it, though I told her I did. She quizzed me on the contents and was surprised to find out I knew what the article said. She was the first person that recognized what I was doing. I don't have a photographic memory, but it is something similar. I would photograph a page of text with my mind. After going through a book I would put the pages and story together later to understand what I had seen in the book.

Now that age is catching up to me that gift is slipping away. My old eyes tire more easily than they did before. Frequently I will miss an important word that changes the meaning of what I had seen. Reading does not quite have the same enjoyment with electronic reading as it does holding a real book in my hands. The smell of the paper and ink, the feel of the pages and bindings are enough to transport you and your imagination wherever you want to go.

The books on the table are random books from our library, save two or three. The Kipling books I have had since childhood. I still enjoy "Gunga Din", "The Last of the Light Brigade", "The Power of the Dog", and of course, "If".

The book under the phone is an old family Bible, printed in 1864. It belonged to my grandfather, a Baptist minister. The book under the glasses is a lovely reading of letters of Puccini wrote to family, friends, and patrons as he composed his many operas.

The pocket watch merely serves as a reminder that time is precious to us all. The lessons in well written books can help us use that time with wisdom so that we may "fill the unforgiving minute with sixty seconds’ worth of distance run".

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