Books as Vessels
When I was a little girl and my family would go to the beach, I wanted to somehow take it with me when we left. I'd try, by keeping the shells I'd found or a small glass jar of salt water or a handful of sand (which was extra special if it glittered with fool's gold), but whatever I chose lost its magic once we got home; no ocean, no gold. I learned early on that I couldn't contain the beach or the sea or the experience, but even now, years later and firmly in middle age, I still want to. I stare out at the blue expanse of ocean with longing, wishing I could keep it and knowing I can't. There isn't a vessel that can contain its beauty and mystery and vastness.
Which is where books come in, for they are wonderful and wondrous vessels for life and beauty and love and soulfulness, and they satisfy that childhood longing I still feel. Books let me keep what they portray for my very own: Pip and Magwitch will always be mine, as will Jane Eyre and Mr. Rochester, and Scout and Atticus and Boo, and that lovely moment when Scout introduces her father to their neighbor in her brother's bedroom. If I am open to it, reading allows a sort of magical transference to occur: the characters and their story--their joys and sorrows and longings and loves--settle in my heart and become part of me, and I never have to say goodbye to any of it. For someone who hates goodbyes--whether to loved ones or experiences or places I love--this is gold, the real thing. It's like taking home a spice-bottleful of ocean, and still hearing it roar in my ear, miles and miles away. --Bo Caldwell, author of City of Tranquil Light and The Distant Land of My Father