The Bookcase

March 3rd, 2021 by Nick Jacobs Leave a reply »

Discovering knowledge on bookcases

Nick Jacobs

Published Tue Mar 02, 2021 8:23 PM EST

One morning my back, leg and knee felt like I was either in my 70s or a retired professional football player. One outta two ain’t bad, and no, I never played professional football. There was no valid reason for these creaky feelings based on activity, inactivity or injury.

Consequently, I attributed it to being an ole dog and headed not to the couch but went instead to our post-flood basement hangout where we had recently installed a set of bookcases that contained at least half of the books we had collected over the past several years.

I’m sitting across from this eclectic compendium of books that range from the complete collection of Mark Twain to the Bible. There are dozens of books about running hospitals, marketing, self-help, cooking, deep science, leadership, and plenty more that are biographies and autobiographies. We have John Adams, Lee Iacocca, Jerry Seinfeld, Abraham Lincoln, and even Steve Jobs.

What isn’t visible in this collection of stuff ranging from modern to ancient is impact. What’s not visible is the collection of thoughts, ideas, and that very ethereal thing most of us long for, knowledge. What have we learned from exposure to the writing contained in these books and how has it impacted our lives? This collection represents less than one-fifth of the books we’ve consumed over the past 50 years, and now many of our reads occur on Kindles or iPads and don’t even result in collectibles.

Where am I going with this? I’ve met thousands of people in my life who have almost zero intellectual curiosity, people who get their information from the equivalent of tabloids. And when it comes time to share conversations with them, I’m always stunned by how dug-in they are on their beliefs and opinions. The one thing I’ve learned from the thousands of books I’ve read is to keep an open mind. These books have contributed to two very important aspects of my personality: be humble and flexible because no one has all the answers.

As a young child, I longed for stability in the form of yes and no, black and white, go or no go answers that gave me absolute direction and certainty of process. My church, parents, teachers and their rules were the basis of my survival. By the time I got to high school and was exposed to classical literature, music, thinking, and the questions each evoked, I knew I was headed into a sea of change, challenge, and hopefully a mental synthesis of new ideas and premises.

Then I hit college where philosophy, literature and science classes all took a piece of my belief system and made me seriously question where I was going and why. And that was a good thing.

I learned about situational ethics, semantics, modern music fans impressionistic artists. These exposures to what some would consider toxic pieces of life, art and literature taught me that no one way is the right way, and we have the ability to design our own futures. They taught me the relevance of being open-minded.

As we head into what could be the Rise of the Phoenix from a psycho-social, cultural and business perspective, and move through what is hopefully the end of this particular pandemic, we have the opportunity to revisit our beliefs. Our beliefs that in some cases were carefully drilled into us by people who could gain financially by our cooperative acquiescence to their stories.

Take a step back and explore everything you’ve read, been taught and heard, and realize that middle ground is a great place to be. Open-minded middle ground is a happy place to take refuge while we sort out the realities of our new-found selves, and work toward some type of peaceful co-existence.

This journey is hard enough. Let’s be friends and embrace our commonalities. And remember, the most rewarding life is a purpose-driven life.


Leave a Reply