My local library back home has an annual summer reading program for kids up to the age of 12. It’s pretty simple. You have 6 weeks to read a certain number of books usually around 10 if memory serves. If you managed to finish the task, you were rewarded with a party and prizes at the community pool. I started doing the program when I was eight and completed it every year until I was no longer eligible. I even managed to win the top prize a few times. This is not an attempt at humble brag or anything. In fact, if anything it demonstrates I had few friends and little social life when I was younger. (That was an attempt at sympathy through pity). What I remember most about those summer readings, besides my odd obsession with the Goosebumps and Wishbone series along with a few standout Stephen King titles that gave the librarian a bit of pause, is how I started continuing the lives of the characters beyond the pages in my head.
When I would get to the last page and everything “ended”, I would keep the story going. I mean the major characters were usually alive and it’s not like their journeys just stopped. So in my dumb kid brain I thought about what Wishbone as D’artanian would keep doing with the Musketeers or how the kid who stopped the possessed dummy would try to move on from that experience. It wasn’t a constant stream of consciousness, but every once in awhile in a quiet moment I would just be by myself and get lost in the continuing adventures I would make up.
It continues to this day. With every movie, television show, book, etc. I start to think ahead of what will happen and will imagine what could have happened after the credits roll. At times to the chagrin of my friends, but it is an odd skill that doesn’t ever really shut off. I suppose that is why I get bored with media at times because it becomes so predictable after you “read” so much of it. However, that is also what makes those few standouts all the more special. I love being surprised and perplexed by a scene or ending in a film and by that one glorious line in a novel.
Whenever I read a book now that truly makes an impact on me, I recall being that nerdy little bookworm in the library trying to read as many books as I can possibly get a hold of. No matter what else changes in my life, I know that my relationship with words will never end. It’s the longest relationship I have ever had and it started in my hometown library near the stacks weighed down with a few hardcovers and paperbacks. Never looked back.
The Sentry Gathers…