The Empty Shelves

There is a library. A giant library filled with books or maybe not so much. Many, many shelves that are clean and straight or maybe very few shelves with dark shadows and bowed wood with tattered books or maybe somewhere in between. The walls could be colorful or plain white with a smudge of dirt here and there. There could also be pictures on the wall or maybe paintings, possibly only a few or maybe thousands.

Also the ceiling, floor, and lighting are interesting. Polished floors or perhaps fake plastic brick? Tall gaping ceilings or the ceilings that seem to rest against your head. The shelves could be far apart or so close together you can barely fit between them. Brilliant summer lighting as if coming through a window or so dark you can hardly see your shadow.

 By now you probably have a very distinct image in your head of what your library looks like. If not think about how your library looks. That’s right you have your own personal library. I have one, you have one, we all have one and each one is different from the person next to you.

Keep the image of your library in the mind, but leave the books out, they will come in a second. Now that we have our library, look around at the empty shelves. They’re pretty bare, but actually they’re not. Each shelf represents one year of your life. Books should fill the shelves that you have lived through, the years ahead of you are empty waiting to be filled. These shelves eventually end, but you can’t see where they do.

The books that fill the shelves are all different. Beautiful binding with crisp clean pages and there could be others with almost worn through pages or burnt edges and smudged ink. The books are our lives, our memories, and the chapters that we go through day by day. On the first few shelves, the books might be thinner and in the form of pictures books with bright illustrations. As the shelves go on the books become thicker…more like novels.

All the books have an overall style although occasionally as you grow your style will shift and change becoming more like you now. There might be a few series within the books, following a specific direction in you have made in your life before you move on.

During this time your library might be a bit scattered, books could be missing and dusty. Pictures hang crooked with broken frames, dust bunnies play together in corners. But thankfully we have a few characters in our libraries that write the books, illustrate them, organize them, and read them. Even without one of these characters our library would fall to ruin.

These four people are you, well different versions of you. Though they are you and look exactly like you, they are all there for a special reason. Let me tell you what they are.

Meet the Reader. She (or he) is the most like you. She walks along the shelves following the story as it unfolds. She follows the plot twists and the cliffhangers, crying at some parts and laughing with others. The Reader follows along with the story walking along the shelves as the Librarian puts more books are put out. She is occasionally brought her favorite books by another one of the characters so she can read through them again. The Reader can look back at the shelves, but can never walk that way. She can also look forward, but can never see the end.

The next person is the Librarian: out of the four characters she is probably the most important to your library. She has free range of the library, where she is busy dusting books, mopping the floors, cleaning pictures, etc. She makes sure all the books are in the correct order and is the person who brings books to the reader. She can go past the reader, making sure the coming shelves are ready for new books. The Librarian is also responsible for putting new books on the shelves for the Reader. To get the new books she goes to a window to the side of the library that looks through to another room.

This room has two shelves: these shelves are filled with white blank books. Two desks sit in front of the window, one very large, one a more medium size. At these desks sit two more of our characters, the Author and the Illustrator.

The Author sits at the larger desk writing away as fast as possible on the current book before giving it to the Illustrator when it has been finished. In front of the Author are many screens connected to headphones that she wears. These tools provide her the story. She furiously writes down the story all the action, characters involved, main characters, thoughts, and feelings. Everything goes into the book in front of her.

When the pen she is using runs out of ink she throws it into the already heaping pile of used pens and reaches into the desk drawer for a new one. Once a book is finished she will hand it over to the Illustrator who then adds beautiful covers, illustrations, and changes fonts. When the Illustrator is finished with the book she places it on the window ledge and the Librarian scoops it up.

Outside of all this through the screens and behind the headphones is where the actual story is happening. While all this is going on the main character is living her life quite possibly oblivious to the fact that her life is being written down on countless books. She or he goes about life making decisions and doing anything that she wants to do, just like all of us. Everything she does contributes to the story a tiny decision affecting the plot of their novel.

What if she, or more importantly you, knew that there was a library and an Author and a Reader and all the other things? Would it change the way you saw your life? Would it change the way you acted? It would do that and more. You are  the star of a giant series!  An author is writing about your life and someone is reading it! Wouldn’t it feel good to entertain her? We have all read something at some point in time and we all know what it’s like reading something boring and something exciting. You want to let the reader read something that keeps them on their toes, keeps them turning the page.

Imagine opening your library to the public, would it be exciting and filled with knowledge and stories about the main character living her dreams? Or would they find a sad dull story about the girl who sat at the computer all day pinning on boards and liking images? Or would they find a tale about a photographer or writer or whatever who never creates what they love to do because they are afraid? Would your story inspire and cause people to do something with their lives?

You never know when someone is going to find your library and pick a random book off the shelf to read. Make sure that no matter what book they pull out is a best seller and it will give them motivation in their lives. Do something with your life, it is possible.


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