I find so much more solace in books than in people. Novels can be read, known, and thoroughly understood. Their beauty is constant. My favorite lines of Dickens, Shakespeare, or Dostoyevsky stay neatly in their places, and when I’m craving them, they can be easily revisited. But people change. Someone can be a messenger from the gods for a moment, and their very presence can communicate to you that somehow behind the empty facades of living there is a deeper, grander meaning, and that the answer to “the question” is a resolute “to be.” For an instant, the eyes of a lover can witness that it is nobler of the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of an outrageous fortune than to find quietus in the cold peace of a bare bodkin. But people change. And in the next instant, the messiah of your loneliness transforms in to the very fardels they had once helped you escape.
Maybe that’s why God speaks to us through books. The Bible, the Koran, the Bhagavad Ghita—they’re all written. God says he never changes, and so when he talks we try to preserve what he said in written form, where it can help to save us from the heart-ache and thousand natural shocks of which flesh is the heir. But can I really trust the books to be my window into to the heart of God? Or are all books, including “revelation,” simply a picture image of the heart of the author at the time of writing? Books mean so much to me because they are the recording of the momentary thoughts and feelings of living, breathing people. They are what I wish people could be—still in their magnificence, and constant in their availability to be understood.
And of the greatest tragedies is that I, too, live so distant from the ideal that I preach. Even now, I am constantly changing. My march onward to the undiscovered country is a process of continual discovery—not only of the landscape around me, but of the heart that beats within. These words that I write may very well sit here undisturbed for a century, but I, their writer, have written them only in a moment of my transformation from what I was to what I am becoming. Our books are only moments in the metamorphosis of our souls.