My life as a diehard dedicated bookworm | AspenTimes.com
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My life as a diehard dedicated bookworm

John Colson

I was a bookworm growing up, which means I read a lot of books as a kid, despite the fact that I also was seriously outdoors-oriented.Of course, most of the books I read are now forgotten, relegated to the dark backwoods of my memories. I remember reading them, I remember the act of sitting on the sofa at our house on Esther Beach Road with a book in my hand. I would be so completely absorbed in my reading, my poor mom would have to conduct a virtual seek-and-destroy mission on my eardrums in order to reach me. I’m still like that, according to my spousal unit, who luckily takes it as an amusing and endearing quality rather than one of a mounting list of grounds for a fight/divorce/homicide.I had other passions as a kid, swimming being chief among them. We lived near a lake (hence the name of our street) and I have always felt as much at home in water as anywhere else. One of my earliest dreams, as far as I can recall, involved diving too deep off a raft that a friend’s family had anchored about 100 yards off their pier. I was down too far, knew it, and knew there was no way I would get back to the surface in time to catch a breath, so I simply inhaled the water and went about my business. No big deal, though I remember being surprised at how it felt – or, more precisely, how it didn’t feel.I once had a near-drowning experience, and vividly recall the horrible sensation of believing I was dying as my lungs filled with water – before I was pulled out and pumped dry by a lifeguard.In my dream, though, there was no pain, no fear, except for a quick flash as I drew in that first gulp of water.But reading, besides being a lot safer, was a lot more intriguing to me. Perhaps, as in the dream, I want to dive as deep as I can into a book, get lost in there, become something other than what I am. There might easily be a part of me that hopes to drown in a book, get so immersed that I become part of the story and never have to surface again into the troubles and toils of the everyday world.My introduction to literature was as a very young boy, too young to read myself, when my dad would put me to bed every night by reading to me from the pages of Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic, “Kidnapped.” I never re-read it on my own, and the book Dad read from is long gone, but the visceral memories of certain scenes stay with me, unconnected to the story line, floating in my cellular consciousness. One is of a staircase leading to an upper story of a rambleshack old building, where young Davie Balfour is grabbed by his abductors and hustled off to a slaver’s ship bound for a life of servitude, all because he tried to claim his inheritance to the House of Shaws estate from the clutches of his wicked Uncle Ebenezer.Jeez, even the simple act of writing about the story carries me back to my bedroom, with Dad sitting at the edge of the bed, hunched over the big black mass of the book, as deeply enmeshed as I in the tale. I can remember some nights when he would start reading and I couldn’t recall the story line; he’d realize he had just kept on reading after I’d fallen asleep. He’d have to backtrack in the book until he found something I remembered, which likely meant we really read that book more than once through.I still read a lot, though I suspect that my list of regular chores suffers for it. Once in a book, I have a hard time separating from it, and when it’s done I find myself desperate to find another one just as good or better. I’ve even joined a book group, something I never thought would interest me, not being much of a joiner. But it’s been grand, reading stuff I never would have picked up myself, and loving it.I suppose reading is, in part, a respite from the hopeless feeling I sometimes get when I contemplate the complexities that face this valley and the world. It’s times like that when my role seems similar to the chief steward on the Titanic – rearranging the deck chairs as the ship goes down.At least, once I get the chairs set up to my liking, I can sit down and read a good book while the waters rise around me.John Colson can be reached at jcolson@aspentimes.com


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