“Don’t start your day with the broken pieces of yesterday…” – Unknown
A Big Brown Dictionary
A long time ago, before I knew happily ever after only happened in fairy tales, I read with a dictionary nearby. It was a big, old brown book with scars on its cover, and tattered page edges that I found in a wooden cabinet that was stuffed with all my grandfather’s abandoned books. He died when I was two, and I claimed the bookcase and its contents even before I learned to read.
The books were ones my grandfather had collected over the years, and included many of the classics, like the works of Edgar Allen Poe and Robert Louis Stevenson. These books contained many strange words to one who was only just learning to read. But when I came across a word whose meaning I couldn’t figure out, I got out that grand old dictionary.
I didn’t know it then but that dictionary and all those books, which nobody else in the family wanted, provided me the perfect apprenticeship for becoming a writer.
While most of the words I looked up have faded in my memory, I still remember how I felt the day I discovered the meaning of flotsam and jetsam. The phrase, as I had come across it in a book, hadn’t been used in a nautical way, so its meaning puzzled me for quite a while. But eventually I caught on, and my education in multiple meanings and nuances was given a giant boost.
Flotsam and jetsam became my own mantra for the jumbled thoughts that continually meandered through my mind.
I’m not sure what happened to that old dictionary, it probably just disintegrated and vanished into nothingness. There were many big old red and sometimes blue dictionaries that accompanied me on life’s journeys after that brown one. But they, too, have disappeared from my life.
But it’s a rare day that I don’t use an online dictionary. While my vocabulary is much larger these days, I’m still learning new words, and new nuances. What a great legacy the grandfather I never knew left me.
While happily ever after might not exist in life, reading happily ever after does.
Bean’s Pat: Flights of Wonder http://tinyurl.com/mdoxb3p Red-tailed chicks. One of my favorite bloggers.