Wednesday, April 25, 2012


My neighbor is moving at the end of this month and I reminded her last night that I still had a plate of hers and a few other items we exchanged over the few years she lived in the apartment across from me. She reminded me that she had a couple of my items as well.  She lamented in our text exchange that she was sad and happy to be making this move. I said that it was merely the next chapter in her life. She responded in a way that gave me the idea for today’s article.

She said, “Good Lord. This is like volume 3 of my personal encyclopedia”.

What a great statement. I marveled at it for a moment and decided right then and there it would be to topic of today’s article; each of our own personal encyclopedias.

My neighbor hit the nail on the head insomuch as to qualify what our lives, these collected experiences, amount to; an encyclopedia of us. It’s really quite an accomplishment to have this ongoing tome of life written as we take each step and each breath. Each page is filled with the things we experience and it’s catalogued for future reference. I think that’s neat.

It’s one of those things that I’ve always been amazed by, how experience can open a person’s mind and help them gain a greater understanding of the world around them as it is and not as how we wish it were. These wandering encyclopedias wrapped in human flesh, spouting their wisdom or nostalgia to each other over countless decades is truly amazing. An encyclopedia may have passed away but we can still use them as a source for our own life and add them to our ever growing knowledge base. The volumes of experience are nearly ceaseless.

It put a positive spin on some otherwise depressing stuff I’ve been writing lately and reminded me that all these things are learning experiences to be written away in memory to be recalled when faced with a similar situation. For the most part, nothing is truly hopeless or without resolution. Knowing where to look for the information is what counts. There are countless people around us that can provide guidance based on their own experiences. It is like having access to the greatest research facility ever designed.

This is not to say that accumulation of this material is easy. It is often times very hard to add these experiences to the already existing encyclopedia. What else can you cram in there before Zebra? However, I think even the attempt to cram something new in, to add the attempt at experience finds its way into us and becomes more information to make future decisions with.  

So I hope this next volume of my neighbor’s encyclopedia is filled with more happiness than sorrow. I hope her encyclopedia keeps expanding and in the end it’s a shining example of experience others can look to for guidance. I’m glad to have been able to catalogue her in my encyclopedia. You’ll find her under Friend. 

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