“Happiness quite unshared can scarcely be called happiness; it has no taste.”
― Charlotte Brontë
I remember when I was a child, and the books in the school library each had a small card in an envelope in the front where every borrower of that particular book had to sign their name beside a rubber-stamped indication of the date checked out and the date due. It was really cool because you could see who had read the same book you were reading. These fellow readers were somehow a part of your community, by virtue of having shared the experience of these very same pages.
Some of the books were very old, and the cards held space for a couple dozen signatures. If a book was not particularly popular, it sometimes happened that the cards bore the childhood signatures of teachers who were once students at the very same school. This provided us with a unique kind of connection to the generation above us. It was almost like a glimpse into the future by way of the past; to witness proof that these people who were authority figures to us then, had at one time been kids just like us, with their own interests and abilities and reading preferences. Some of which we apparently shared! Where would we be when someone, someday, recognized our name among the scrawls on the card…?
And suddenly it was about so much more than just the book we held in our hands. It was a window into where we were going…
Today, we are not privy to the history of borrowers an individual book has known. Because of computerization and automation of the checkout process, that information is hidden from us. Yet still, we know that this book has passed through many hands, and will pass through many more once we have finished with it. The connection may be invisible, but it still exists. The flavor of community is sweetened because the books – and the knowledge and wisdom contained within them – are shared.
“Where we are going” may be as yet undefined, but one thing is certain: we are all on this journey together. And it is so much more delicious when we can touch the connections between us, and live into the sharing of it.