This is a bookshelf. I took the photo on my iPhone at my parent’s house on Texada Island, BC. My dad built the bookcase and the books on it have been around since my very early childhood. I can’t even recall the circumstances in which I took the photo – the when or why – but when I look at it, something inside me that gets caught up in my busy everyday life just chills out a bit.
This image might be a little tiny one – a phone photo – but it makes me pretty happy inside. I’m reading “The Architecture of Happiness” by Alain de Botton right now, and a lot of his book centres around the idea that we are drawn to spaces, places and objects that “speak” to us of what we want ourselves to be. We surround ourselves with scenes and items that remind us, somewhere deep in our brains, of what we believe in and the qualities and ideals we hold dear. That’s a pretty small part of what the book is about, but it’s one that is capturing my interest right now.
Following this theory, then, what does this bookshelf say to me?
It reminds me primarily of the simplicity I seek in my life. The bookshelf is unfinished fir, unpretentious and serviceable first and foremost. The books speak to me about playfulness and fun – their jaunty colours and tilted angles seem casual and relaxed. The book collection itself speaks to an unfussy air – the titles are anything from philosophy to history to children’s bedtime tales. The two artworks on the wall are block prints. I love the sturdy, steady nature of this art. It grounds me, echoing the simplicity of this scene. It reminds me to slow down in my life. Take the time out to read the book titles, perhaps actually spend an hour reading with a cup of tea. This bookshelf says to me, “Don’t forget about the basics. Don’t get so caught up in wanting things and running around trying to get them that you forget about the joy in the little things, and taking time out to appreciate them.”
I think the message is one that is close to my heart, and says a lot about who the best of me is. So thanks, bookshelf, for reminding me that joy is attainable in the details of the world around me and pushing me to be that better version of myself.