Monday, February 23, 2009

Precise Purpose 2/23/09

Wear the old coat and buy the new book.

Austin Phelps
Welcome back.
In Puccini's opera La Boheme, Colline decides to sell his overcoat to buy medicine in a futile attempt to help prolong the life of his roommate's girl friend. Even though it's an old coat it's deep pockets have held for him the best of poetry and philosophy. He loves that coat. Before he goes off with it, he sings a farewell to it "Addio, addio." It's a very poignant moment.

I used to sing that aria. (No, I used to pretend to sing it.)

One of the minor fears I've always had during my life, is that I would find myself stuck somewhere without something interesting to read. When I worked as a broadcaster in New York my reading schedule was brief and irregular at best. Being a radio announcer is busy and often difficult work and don't let anybody tell you differently. I always had a copy of the New York Times with me. Tucked in amongst the chit chat about the latest crime or political scandal, the war stories, the fashion and entertainment news, the weather information, the stock market quotes and the ball scores, there were stories written by people who had ideas to express. They may be new ideas, old ideas in a new articulation or forgotten ideas recovered and brought to print.

Margaret Thatcher once said that whereas England was formed from history, America was formed by philosophy.

Wherever I went I always had a book in my pocket. My friends knew that. I remember one evening sitting in DJ Moran's on 57th Street in Manhattan having a beer. Three guys came in. I knew one of them. He said "Hey D. What's in the pocket?" I said "Cervantes." The other two guys laughed until I took out my copy of Don Quixote and put it on the bar. They were not very impressed. So what? I didn't carry the book to impress people. I had it to read.

The world is made of ideas. Primarily and ceaselessly of ideas. There is no question about that. So whether you buy the overcoat or not, buy the book. And read it.

DB The Vagabond
Time to put another stone down on that path you're building to your dream.


Linda's World said...

I have an old coat and I buy used books. I think used books are more precious than new ones. Used books have been in held in the hands of previous readers. I often wish the used books I buy could tell me where they've been. I carry a book with me most of the time, especially to doctor's appointments, etc. Last week when I drove my car to the car wash after our trip to Canada, I took my book and read while my car was being washed. Hope you had a good weekend. Has it warmed up any? Linda in WA

Bucko (a.k.a., Ken) said...

A good book makes a good friend, glad you always have a friend with you :o)

Beth said...

I love the Margaret Thatcher quote.

A couple of years ago, I saw a an older relative that I hadn't seen for many years. The first thing he said to me was "Beth Anne! It's our little bookworm!" LOL I guess I've been carrying a book with me for many years. I can't say that I was displeased about being remembered that way. :)

Love, Beth

Gerry said...

I really appreciate your philosophy in this entry. Right now I have been taking pleasure in buying some cheap used books to send to Sugar who because of her health is pretty much of a shut in. Mary put me in touch with her need. She likes mysteries she said but reads all kinds. To my delight I found "Angels and Demons" by Dale Brown yesterday which I thought was full of fascinating info about the Vatican I did not know. Tom Hanks is going to star in the movie. I felt that I had ordered this book psychically for her, and I was not surprised when it turned up! Our family now gives books almost exclusively for Christmas. The job is to convince the kids this is the best of all possible gifts!

a corgi said...

reading is the best gift we can give ourselves to increase our knowledge; choosing wisely what we read is also essential too :)

great entry DB


Big Mark 243 said...

I am going to join the chorus on this one as well ... in fact, one of the enduring images a person who has known me for a long time, is one of me trying to read SOMETHING!

Have a great day!

Arlene (AJ) said...

I've read books from the time I was a little girl, it's one of my favorite pass times. Always have 3-4 books on hand to read. Can't imagine life without a book to enjoy. I keep a list of all the books I read so that when I'm at the library, book stores, resale book shops, know I only have to check to see if I've read that already. Love the many adventures I've felt such a part of in the books I've read. A book is always included in any gift I buy a my neices or nephews or any little one.

Leigh said...

Ab-so-lute-ly! Or two at the used book store! :)

I always have a book in my bag(purse) to read, have a spare in the car in case I finish the one in my bag, and a bedtime novel-usually one to induce drowsiness.

Hell would be a place with no books.

:) Leigh