Monday, August 2, 2010

Less Traveled

To me, one of the more thought-provoking images is one of a path. Paths signify different ideas to different people. They bring up varying thoughts and emotions. Maybe some people see a path and it brings up feelings of uncertainty and fear. "What lies at the end of the path?" they may think, even before stepping foot upon it; they turn around and walk away, back to their known world. Or perhaps the uncertainty is a pulling force, causing one to run, arms outstretched, as if to take flight, their feet never touching the ground. Paths do go in both directions, though. A wanderer can, at any time turn around and walk back from whence they came.

But, there could have been something waiting at the end of the path. The "what is" becomes the "what might have been". Those who never venture will always be left with questions.

Yes...this "path" is allegory. If it were a real path, there could be monsters lurking at the end...or angels. Sorry, still waxing allegorical. I mean, there could be grizzly bears, or perhaps an ice cream stand. That is the thing about paths...they all lead to somewhere. Is the finding out worth the unknowing journey?

For me, paths and images of, hearken to the familiar poem by Robert Frost, which was about "roads", but the idea, the feeling is the same:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by...

Will I take the path, or is it the path I am on now?

Will it make all the difference?

Sunday, August 1, 2010

This didn't start out as social commentary...

I decided to go shopping today, which for me entails logging on to the computer and navigating over to the online store that sells just about know, the one that just isn't a river in South America. Stumbling along the Internet, I came across an article about a book that sounded like an interesting read, so off to Amazon I went.

On the home page sits the Kindle. The newer, smaller version with wi-fi is beckoning me with it's "under $200"price tag. I have been fighting the urge to buy a Kindle since it's debut. It's not because I don't feel that a digital download is less real because I can't hold the item in my hands. I have been downloading mp3s for years now. It shocks me when I see the number of purchased songs on my iTunes...ninety-nine cents at a time over the course of a few years. Let's just say it adds up.

Back to the my life as it stands now, a Kindle (or any e-book, let's be fair here) just makes sense. The past few weeks I have been bagging up old paperbacks that I will never read again, due in part to a period in my life when I ate up romance novels like chocolate bonbons (Godiva, mind you). I know I have blogged about this subject before, how there is just something about holding a book in your hands. Also there is a joy, a sense of pride I tend to feel when I look at the many shelves of books that clutter my house. Shelves of books I have read more than once, books I have yet to read. Books that are scattered throughout...a book on my bed-side table, a few books in a wicker basket next to my couch. A book in my "library", you know, the library with the porcelain seat? They all have bookmarks slid between the pages. All in different stages of being read. Right now, I have Contact by Carl Sagan, A Literate Passion: Letters of Anais Nin (pardon my lack of umlaut) and Henry Miller, 1932-1953, and A Movable Feast by Ernest Hemmingway...all in the process of being read.

Okay, I admit, I am somewhat showing off. One mark against the Kindle. It's not like I can walk up to someone and say, "Hey, wanna see my reading list?" without sounding like a total puffed up peacock.

But, as time goes by, and the older and obviously more practical I become, being able to carry my library with me begins to have it's appeal. Less stuff cluttering my house, and by extension, my life is appealing, also.

But what appears to be the center of it all, the heart of the matter, the big selling point to a Kindle (or Nook, or Sony's e-reader) is the ability to have whatever I want to read in a matter of minutes. I want it, and I want it now.

And there in lies the inherent danger. Society has collectively lost it's patience because of the Digital Age. Books, music, answers to nagging questions...they are just a click away. Computers, the Internet, technology has possibly turned society into people who feel that everything they ever wanted, ever needed is as close as their laptops. It's even there with email, instant messaging and social networks like Facebook. The anticipation of a reply has gone from days to sometimes seconds. Wondering where that old boyfriend ended up? Search his name....chances are you will be reliving old times within the hour. Instant gratification.

We have become impatient. We have forgotten how to wait.

We have also become society of hermits with no need to leave the house, but I will leave that for another post.