On this ordinary evening with the general haze of this little pocket of urban peace, I sit and recall the days of middle school. You see, I had a small group of friends, but really, only one of them was my friend. The rest were just people I had come across, or who had joined, as is the case with a ragtag team of kids no one wants to play with. Every week, we got time allocated to visit the library.
There is something about making kids sit in a room surrounded by books, perhaps. They think this might make them—well, some of them—want to read. And sure, I can say it worked. The first books I read were the Enid Blyton stories, book after book—I tore through them. Before long, I was done with most of the books worth reading, but this is not about me or my introduction to the unappreciated and miserly vocation of reading for fun. This is but a memory of how my friend and I used to pick a magazine each week—those magazines for children, the ones where there was no topic, and each page was a surprise.
It had a page on trivia and every week, we would jot it all down into a tiny notebook, hoping we could capture everything there was to know about the world. Useless, of course, all those facts. At least from the idea of having an everyday life. You could live your entire life knowing centipedes don’t have an even number of feet. But then, we wrote all of them down in a shared notebook, just in case. I do not know why we were doing this, but it has not stopped in many ways—this want for useless knowledge.
The other day, I watched an hour-long documentary about printing. We do not change much from who we started as; we only become more of ourselves. Or maybe it is only me who refuses to let go of the things that brought me joy then and the others? They have already lost who they were; their curiosity is now plastered with a snide remark, and their laughter is shut behind stacks of bills. This perpetual continuity I find in myself is missing in others.
Often, I tell others about something, and they tell me there are better things adults should worry about, to which I have no response, but what a shame it is that we must choose one or the other.
What a shame indeed.