On Books

22 degrees going up to 55 degrees with bright and sunny skies in Pittsburgh today, very odd time of the year. It’s the twin-season time of year with all the glory of spring plus all the bitter cold of winter. Experiencing weather in Pittsburgh is only trumped by the unfamiliarity of the sun. A bright sunny morning in Pittsburgh equals traffic, sun-blind driving accidents and daydreaming drivers in awe of seeing the sun. My driving-daydream was about my love of books (& sometimes my fear of books, they know more than me – well most of them).

My love of books started in my first semester of my junior year in college. Two things happened to me in that semester that would cultivate my love and, sometimes, addiction to books. First, I got glasses, and second I met Dr. Mistro, my philosophy professor in college.

Until that point in my life reading hurt my eyes but nobody believed me. I would take my yearly eye exam in school and get 20/20 vision on the testing but nonetheless every time I would start to read my eyes would soon hurt and my mind would wonder. (Eye fatigue) Finally some eye doctor believed me or wanted to make a sell, and I got my first pair of reading glasses. The written word came to life (pain free) and changed my life.

Second thing that happened was having Dr. Mistro as my philosophy professor. He was one of “those” teachers that you hear about who changed a life. His teachings and subjects opened up a new world to me, a world with a passion for learning that had previously been missing in my life.

For the greater part of my life I was lacking zeal for most everything except playing guitar. In high school I always felt that I was labeled a dreaming, lazy, unmotivated type of person; for the most part the labels fit. I can remember my teachers referring to me as “that guitar playing kid”. At least I was lucky enough to have one passion in my life. True to labeling I was lazy, bored, unmotivated and uninterested in academics until Dr. Mistro’s Philosophy class.

Philosophers were daydreamers that history took seriously. That worked for me. From Aristotle to Nietzsche, they all made sense to me. I understood their thoughts and words. Algebra was nothing more than Egyptian hieroglyphics, but the existentialism and postmodernism of “Thus Spoke Zarathustra” was like that first breath of air that saves you from drowning.

The love of books spearheaded itself when Dr. Mistro said to me “I do not trust people who do not read”. Not much for curbside prophecy, but it spoke to me. Continued growth in life is what it preordained in me. Do not trust people who no longer continue to grow. That phrase gave birth to an enthusiasm for reading that has never stopped budding inside of me. Additionally it fit perfectly with my approach to guitar playing. Six strings, a piece of wood and endless mystery. A love for wisdom with continued growth in music, books, art and life would never leave me.

Dr. Mistro gave me passion, more importantly he gave me conviction that my interests were worth pursuing. Dr. Mistro gave me conversation; he was interested in my thoughts and my term papers. We would discuss my interest in existentialism and postmodernism. He would actually come see my band play on the college campus, and we would discuss song lyrics that I had written influenced by his teaching. He fostered an academic relationship that made me feel like a peer.

Lastly he introduced me to a photography professor; he thought I might take a curiosity in the subject.