Written June 3rd, 2012
There is a bookshelf which has, over time, made its way to my room. Having moved from my parents’ room to mine over roughly a decade, what seemed, to a child, to be merely varnished plywood, glue, and screws has proven to be much more than that for an adult. In this bookshelf, a gamut of reading options; perspectives to which I’d never been exposed, words I’d never seen and topics I’d never known existed. I’d learn, in due time, that Ayn Rand, Richard Wright, Jane Austen, Eldridge Cleaver, Malcolm Gladwell, David Gerrold, and others would become kindred friends of mine; friends, at least, in terms of their willingness to share their thoughts with me. It was by design that the bookshelf made its way to my room—that I was introduced to Ayn, Richard, Jane, Eldridge, and others of their ilk—that I absorbed all they offered me; the design, mind you, of my parents, Noland and Kim Jones.
There is no order to the contents of this bookshelf. Here, books with tattered edges and leather bindings separating from the pages are juxtaposed with lustrous, new books. If the bookshelf represents my parents’ knowledge, its movement to my room represents the passage of this knowledge, and the diversity of the books represents the expansiveness of this knowledge. It is fitting, then, that Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice leans against Ray Thrower’s Things My Grandfather Taught Me, and Nikki Giovanni’s Quilting the Black-Eyed Pea rests beside Higher Learning in America. Since my earliest cognitive years, my parents have stressed to me the importance of knowing a little about a lot. Perhaps, their greatest feat of parenting was urging me to do this subconsciously. Just as sure as I laid my head upon my pillow every night, my eyes gazed forward before sleep overcame me; the last thing I saw—always—being what was once a heap of varnished plywood, glue, and screws, but what I would soon view as a gateway to the past and my future: The bookshelf.
No man has ever been forced to learn anything. The only time man learns anything is when he is convinced it serves his best interest. Understanding this, I believe, my parents never overwhelmed me. Instead, much like the sun exudes rays with the understanding that these rays are essential for almost all life to exist, my parents made their knowledge available to me, knowing one day, I would absorb it voraciously. Today, as I type this very article in my room, the bookshelf still sits at my backside, packed with writing from innumerable sources. Let each word I write serve as a testament to Noland and Kim, for they have nourished the mind that manages to place these words on paper.