I have developed a sense of pride for my personal library. In addition to a choice smattering of many fiction and nonfiction genres, I have textbooks, some antiquated, some still relevant, ranging from constitutional law to java programming to calculus to Asian philosophy.
I often catch myself wondering how valuable my library might prove to be after a society-shattering apocalypse. My books could be used to pass on to future generations a shred of the collective education their long-dead ancestors possessed.
But when looking at dozens of books and notes I haven't cracked since I was enrolled in the class, I realize how silly it is to base your life on very remote doomsday predictions (despite how often they creep into your rationale).
So instead of hanging on to box-loads of untouched, dust-collecting textbooks, I think I'm finally ready to get rid of them. But so far, none of them have made it into the trash pile. The archivist in me clutches to the idea that they may one day be useful, or perhaps just interesting, to understand the paradigms of this era by seeing how we observed and explained our the things that happen in our world.
I also thought I'd finally be able to let go of the acceptance letter and scholarship award package from George Washington University when I applied during my senior year of high school (1997). Fewer than 10% were accepted that year, and I'd gotten into the Honors Program with a presidential scholarship. But even with the scholarship and loans, I still couldn't get quite enough money to go. I don't linger much on the ways my life might be different now if I'd gone to GW instead of Ole Miss, if I'd begged my Dad's family to help me make up that last $10,000 per year for living expenses to be able to go. I'm sure there are dozens of alternative realities already formed from that one splintering decision.
International relations was the only reason to go to GW anyway; it had a competitive, dedicated foreign affairs school and sat in the heart of Washington D.C. I was able to study international studies at Ole Miss anyway. I wonder if I'd actually worked hard enough to become fully involved in the foreign service or international law, that that I'd still enjoy the subject matter. But I got turned off by the idea of living in an impersonal big city large enough to offer such a job. A slow and steady demoralization of my interest left me smacking for something else.
That bold navy blue George Washington University folder with embossed gold lettering was poised over the trash can twice tonight, its potential energy yearning for me to open my fingers and let it slip. And yet there it sits on the bookshelf, because I like to be reminded that I was once, and still am, very special.