Have you ever been filled with wonder by a place that you visited?
The longer I live, the more I fall in love with my public library.
I remember the first time I went to a library was when I was in grade school.
That first trip to the library included a lesson on the Dewey Decimal system and a visit to this wooden cabinet filled with what seemed like a hundred small drawers.
As I pulled out the first drawer, I observed that the drawer filled with hundreds of index cards.
Each index cart represented a book that was on one of the shelves of the library.
Even though I didn’t read much as a child, I was still filled with wonder at the school library.
Little did I know back then how impactful libraries would be for my life.
The first public library, the Malatestiana Library, opened its doors in 1454 in the city of Cesena, Italy.
This was the first instance of knowledge being given freely to the public.
Public libraries are our greatest treasure.
Benjamin Franklin, a man I’m developing a strong friendship with, founded America’s first public library in 1731.
Even though Benjamin Franklin passed on from this life more than one hundred years ago, he still lives on in the words of his books.
My earliest encounter with Benjamin Franklin began when I read his thirteen virtues from his Autobiography.
Benjamin Franklin’s thirteen virtues were his moral compass.
He wrote down the thirteen virtues in his early twenties and then proceeded to master those thirteen virtues the remainder of his life.
Each week Franklin focused on one of his virtues, and each week that virtue became more ingrained in his soul and character.
Each week, Benjamin Franklin forged greatness into his life by focusing on one virtue at a time.
Benjamin Franklin loved the library as it became a true public good that improved the lives of all who partook of the library’s vast fortune.
Benjamin Franklin shares his love of libraries in the following words.
“The library afforded me the means of improvement by constant study, for which I set apart an hour or two each day, and thus repair’d in some degree the loss of the learned education my father once intended for me.”
I’ve enriched my life through constant visits to the library.
Thirteen years ago, I hit rock bottom after being fired from a job.
The library became my refuge.
The library helped me revive my life and realize that challenges are only temporary.
I’ve learned from history’s greatest heroes.
I’ve climbed to the summit of Mount Everest multiple times with people that risked life, limbs, toes, and fingers to accomplish what for many people is impossible.
I visited the moon and walked in the footsteps of Buzz Aldrin, Edgar Mitchell and Alan Shepard.
Many years ago, I wrote a list of 100 people I wanted to meet.
On this list are the names of people that changed humanity.
We all stand on the shoulders of giants.
Books change people’s lives.
Malcolm X was a hoodlum, and a neer do well.
He found himself in solitary confinement incarcerated in prison.
Then he read a book that changed his life.
Were it not for that book, Malcolm X may have left prison and returned to a life of crime.
Instead, he arose from the prison walls, a changed man that lived out the rest of his short life fighting for freedom.
The first books were not books.
They were the oral traditions passed on from one generation to the next.
Humanity learned many millennia ago that the best way to pass on knowledge was through the use of stories.
The great books of wisdom are compilations of stories.
The Native Americans shared stories of animals that included a moral to instruct their children.
The books of ancient scripture lay out the path of the good life.
Those books share with us the painful consequences of those who chose the path of wretchedness.
Aesop’s fables sprinkle kernels of human insight in a few paragraphs.
Why did our ancestors rely on stories to impart wisdom to their progeny?
Because stories have mystical powers.
When we hear a story, we travel into another world.
We live in that story.
We experience life in a whole new way.
That story shows us a different way to live.
Until we experience something new, it is impossible for us to shake the shackles that confine us to our comfort zone.
We have to jump into someone else’s shoes to know that life can be different.
There is no better way to experience someone’s life than through a book.
Our imaginations run wild, and we gain a new perspective.
When our perspective changes, we see life beyond our current limits.
Nothing is more disastrous to humanity than a closed mind.
Just a few weeks ago, my good friend Joe Dowdy opened my eyes back to my amazement of the public library.
Joe recommended to me that I get the Libby App by Overdrive.
The great thing about the Libby App is there is a vast collection of audiobooks available for free.
Since getting the Libby App, I’ve listened to a couple of books, and my love of learning has reinvigorated my soul.
Take some time to lose yourself in a good book and get your mind right by visiting the library.
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