Anything can happen in Alexandria

{ Tuesday, December 18, 2007 }

I dream sometimes of living near the library at Alexandria. In my dreams, the rooms are filled with natural light which never ages the books. At night, I can see the stars through high windows.

Every book on every shelf is one that will make me glad to have read it. When I pull down a book, I know that reading it will make me feel wonderful -- challenged, stretched, encouraged, comforted, delighted, overexcited, entertained, awed.

At ten o'clock every morning, exactly the volume I would have chosen for myself is lain by a smiling librarian on the marble side table beside the most comfortable chair. And I never feel as though I should be doing something else. Reading is like running, like kissing, like laughing. And all those things are mine to do as well, any time I want, without losing any time reading.

Outside the library there are cypress gardens with orchids and lotus pools, and outside the garden gates a city with people building houses and glass office buildings and yelling things to each other across the streets and selling soft fabrics and silver chains and hoisting their briefcases and jangling their pots and pans. And outside the city are wide fields, and beyond that a river, and beyond the river and winding away over the curve of the earth, a vast wiggling net of roads and rivers, teeming with people in whose hands and heads are libraries of memories and hungers and plans.

Did you once sleep twenty minutes and feel as though your dream had lasted hours? I have an idea that in the moment before death, the mind goes into the timeless state of dreams. That instead of reliving our lives, we go into what seems an eternal dream, a place of our imagination.

Death: a moment's pained surprise, a moment's dream -- but until then the reading and running and kissing and laughing, the field and the river, the clanging, peopled cities, the faces I see every day filled with their libraries of memories and hungers and plans.

Someday, for a moment that will seem to me forever, I will be in Alexandria. Until then? I suppose I am building my library.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

I forget what an amazing writer you are, just how you seem amazed at my photographs sometimes. I think it's because we know each other as fabulous friends, yet we're round characters with diverse talents and we can't bounce into each other on all sides of our spheres. This post is beautiful.

jen

Ann said...

Your photo of the round window in the brick wall makes me happy every day. I see it every time I walk through the house and cannot stay in any bad mood if I stop to look at it. It is in my Alexandria too.

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