Early in my childhood I developed an acute love of reading. It became my way of exploring further the world I saw on TV, in films and in magazines. I developed the ability to be able to see in my mind what I was reading in a sort of movie in my head. Through that ability I read in “full color”. I have had wonderful adventures and have met the most intriguing people.
I have spent time along the Mississippi with Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer and journeyed to many other destinations with Samuel Clemens. I learned about how challenging life could be from Charles Dickens and will always be grateful for his introductions to Oliver Twist, David Copperfield, Timothy Cratchit and for the first love story that touched my soul in a “Tale of Two Cities”.
From reading I learned how to save the day with the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew. When Jim Hawkins taught me about pirates and buried treasure I could not put the book down. “Treasure Island’s” Jim Gunn was not my first meeting with a castaway. That was Robinson Caruso who begins as an aimless wanderer and ends as a pilgrim. From him I learned about perseverance.
As a child, the Bible was just too difficult to read for me in its original form. But there was Vacation Bible School at the Lineville Baptist Church in the summer that brought the stories in the book to life. When the tales were translated to a kid’s level I was amazed as I read the books they gave us. David and Goliath, Samson and the lion, Noah’s ark, Jonah and the whale and more were all great adventures I learned from.
By junior high I was reading James Bond novels and fancied growing up and being some sort of a cross between Bond and Albert Einstein, doubling my chances to save the world. Soon I discovered Jules Vern, H. G. Wells and before long graduated to the scary stories of Edgar Alan Poe (and remember seeing Vincent Price star in the movie versions of several of them). I will never forget the far out journeys I took with Isaac Asimov to deep space, with Arthur C. Clark to the monolith, visiting Mars with Ray Bradbury and or the trip to a brave new world compliments of Aldous Huxley. These authors stretched my concepts of reality and made me think and ponder deep questions I had never considered before.
As the years passed I traveled through the beautiful writing of Kahlil Gibran during my hippie days and then into the poetry of Elizabeth Barrett which touches my heart today more than ever. Now I read to grow and focus mostly on philosophy by every one from Epictetus, Aristotle and Socrates to Thoreau, Russell and Carl Jung along with books with a more spiritual theme by writers like Tolle, Walsh, Lama Das and the Dalai Lama. My exploration of Eastern Spirituality has been going on for over a decade now and still takes up a good bit of my time. I am deeply indebted to Huston Smith and others who expanded my view of religion and spirituality to the broad perspective I have today.
I have said all this to express great gratitude for four women who were instrumental in my learning to love reading so much. They were the teachers I had my first four years in grammar school: Mrs. Pruett, Mrs. Levi, Mrs. Anderson and Mrs. Wood. I will always be grateful.
Gratitude is a vaccine, an antitoxin, and an antiseptic. John Henry Jowett