I love books. All you have to do is slap a random bunch of pages between two covers and I’m right there, eager to open it up and discover what’s inside.
In fact, I love books so much that I’m predisposed to think any book I’m about to read is going to be a good one. Nothing pleases me more than to begin reading something that hooks me early on, engaging first my mind and then my heart until I’m entangled so deeply in the story that I almost feel I’m a part of it.
The flip side, of course, is that sometimes it takes only a few pages to dampen that initial enthusiasm. I may continue to read, hoping something better is yet to come, but my heart won’t be in it, and my mind will wander to a dozen other things. I’ll suddenly realize I can’t remember a single word of the last two pages, and I’ll feel irritated about having to reread words that didn’t hold my interest the first time.
Some books are treasures, some are a waste of my time.
It occurred to me recently that I think about people the same way I think about books. Usually, when I meet new people, my expectation is that I’ll like them. With rare exceptions, I’ll give the new person a vote of confidence and the benefit of the doubt before the first greeting is exchanged.
Most people, like most books, are pleasant enough. They may not be exciting, but they hold my attention. If somebody mentions them, I’ll remember them with a degree of fondness.
There are other people, unfortunately, who begin to disappoint me with their first words, to let me know that if I continue to “turn their pages,” all I’ll find is more of the same rudeness, ignorance, hostility and intolerance. No doubt those people have their stories, too, but I usually don’t stick around long enough to learn them.
My favorite people are the ones I feel a connection with early on, the way an especially good book engages and enthralls right from the beginning. There's an energy about them that seems to radiate an invitation: "Come with me; I’ve lots to tell you and lots to show you, and we’re going to have a good time.” People like this challenge me in the best possible way. They make me think and inspire me to feel.
People like this –- and books like this –- are my idea of classics. I know I'll gain new insights by spending time with them. Maybe I'll even discover something I never knew about myself.