Sunday, October 19, 2008

We Are What We Consume

I have no idea who originally coined a version of that saying, but the older I become; the more I see the wisdom in that simple sentence. Whatever it is we choose to digest is what we become, whether it goes into our mouth or through our eyes.

Yesterday many Baytonians gathered for the Pilot Club’s annual Memory Walk to raise money for a cure for Alzheimer’s disease. It’s no secret there is a direct correlation between keeping our minds active through reading and our bodies stimulated through exercise and our well-being and health in our golden years.

Twenty years ago, while preparing to leave Sterling Library I observed a coworker pull his old beat-up work truck into the parking lot. I looked down at my watch and realized it was shift change at the Plant. I smiled as this particular friend, work clothes and all, went straight from work into the library. Glancing up in the direction of Someburger I saw another coworker, coming straight from the Plant, park his shiny new truck and go inside the restaurant.

I sat quietly in my car and pondered what I had just witnessed. The thought occurred to me that both men were hungry, but their priorities were different. I’ve thought about this incident many times and I’m still puzzled by their choice or priority. I had my books and left and if I would have stayed longer, I may have witnessed them exchange places. I guess I could ask them, but I won’t. I would rather keep it a mystery.

I’m a self-proclaimed and struggling Philomath – a lover of learning. I may not be all that smart, but I sure try hard to figure stuff out and for whatever reason, I’m always playing catch-up. I guess a psychologist could wring volumes of deficiencies as to why I feel this way, but all I know is I continually get the gut-sick feeling I am sliding backwards in my education. The race is on and I’m slipping further and further behind. To me, it’s like I can’t read enough to ever fill the void.

I have a personal library and these days I rarely visit our public library, which is a confession of sorts rather than an apology. The good Lord has blessed me with the means to purchase the books I desire, so I use www.amazon.com to get my used tomes inexpensively and keep them permanently. I believe a person’s library is akin to a vision into their psyche and I guess my collection is no exception.

I’m perpetually curious and want to know who, what, where, when, how and most important of all – why. I find answers to these questions through books. Recently the Baytown Sun’s excellent reporter Tara Sullivan sat on my patio to interview me about birding and I think I actually conducted the interview, as I had so many questions about her world as a journalist and how it works. Finally, after my many questions, I caved and answered her questions. I think she did a fine job on her article too.

My hunger for history was recently generously subsidized by a check from my Plant for completing a quarterly safety qualification to the tune of one hundred and fifty bucks! Off I went to Amazon.com and when I was finished typing, I had purchased seventeen books, two concerning birding and fifteen autobiographies, biographies and country histories.

Magellan, who first circumnavigated the globe (till he met his demise in The Philippines), both president Roosevelt’s (two Theodore’s and two FDR’s), three Churchill’s, one Mohandas Gandhi, one Einstein, the Rise and Fall of the British Empire (which was supposed to last another 1800 years), the great hedge of India, Hiroshima, China, and good old Ben Franklin the classic self-promoter are all coning in the mail and I can’t wait to begin reading these books.

I’m reading the top one hundred science fiction books and have two still in the queue from my last buying binge. While I was writing this I received a phone call to renew my subscription to Asimov’s Science Fiction magazine which I was reading today incidentally and before I could consult my bride, I committed to another 36 issues for a generous offering of only $2.36 per issue. Of course, I could save my dollars and get all of this free at the library.

According to the February 13 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association “A study of 700 seniors over several years found that more frequent participation in cognitively stimulating activities, such as reading books, newspapers or magazines, engaging in crosswords or card games, was significantly associated with a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease”.

So, am I simply tooting my own cornucopic horn here, or am I trying to show that what we consume is what we become and using myself as an example? You decide. What am I hungry for right now? Someburger, of course. Why not? It’s one of the best burgers in town and thanks to my addiction to reading books; I’ll have no trouble remembering where it’s located.

1 comment:

Natalie said...

Interesting, Bert. Caused me to ponder something sort of profound...maybe I'll write about it for next week :)

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Our founding fathers gave us a Republic, not a Democracy. I was probably about 17 the first time I picked up a copy of George Orw...