Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The Book Drum by Jacob Collins-Wilson

This book drum is a reminder of my loneliness. It's how I spent my high school and college years. I went to my first party at twenty-two, after I'd already graduated from a Master's program to become a teacher. At the time, I figured I was safe from vices. I had a career. A party wouldn't suck me in like drinking dragged my father, my father's father, my mother's father, my mother's father's father. I was right. But it did throw me farther away from society, and deeper into the drum where I often resonated in the sound of silence.

Sometimes, while reading, I’d fall asleep on the rocking chair or in quiet closets while my wife attended parties. See, she loved other people, loved noise and the din of voices. The only sound I liked was music; but I loved it because it took me out of myself (the only thing I hated more than other people). Music allowed me to exist in a song that said more about my own life, and life in general, than I could ever write. But concerts end, so back to books it goes.

I read every book on this drum twice—I had nothing else to do. I've never understood more, thought more, felt more than when I read these titles. Yet I can't help but hate them with all of my being. Yes, they've helped me clarify my feelings and emotions, understand myself, but my students do the exact same thing. High school kids teach me about sorrow and suffering, about living without regrets or care, about the physical and psychological joy of flirting. Books are one way of getting those things, but when you get them only from books, you miss the physical.

Instead of reading Zorba the Greek, save up a cache of money and find a Kramer to run your finances until they're depleted, then go back to your job. If it's feeling you want, understanding, knowledge, thought, depth, quit reading the books lining the drum, and play the drum.
Jacob Collins-Wilson currently teaches English at Forest Grove High School and writes a lot.