Books: Learning to love and let go

dlauderdale@islandpacket.comNovember 5, 2012 

Thanks to Mary Schumacher of Hilton Head Island for sharing an essay that should inspire book lovers and library supporters throughout Beaufort County.

Mary is the bookstore chairperson for the Friends of the Library organization on Hilton Head. She is one of several volunteers at libraries across the county who accept donations of used books and sell them, with proceeds going to the library for its collections and programs.

Mary shares the following letter that came with an anonymous donation of gently used books.


I love books. A lot. And since I was a little girl, I've been collecting them.

Somewhere along the way, Disney released "Beauty and the Beast," and I remember seeing the library that Beast gave to Belle and I fell in love, not with their love story â€" that was nice and all â€" but with that library.

And I dreamed of having one myself, where little children and grown-ups alike could come and make use of my beautiful collection of books, filled with all kinds of inspiration and wild, untamed imagination.

And the gliding ladders that seemed to climb to the heavens weren't a bad touch either, especially to a child.

So I began to collect, little by little, and then as I got older, lot by lot. I'm still young (in my mirror, anyway), but it has recently come to my consciousness that my dreams of having a library one day, altruistic as they might have been in the beginning, are sought after in a way that, in my assessment, is not healthy.

It's not healthy because it involves countless books sitting on my shelves for years, not being read, not being used, not pouring out their little paper-filled selves of inspiration into the lives of anyone else. This is not good.

Have no fear, I still dream of one day building a library somewhere, but several things became very clear to me in my recent meditations:

I have a library now. A small one -- compared to my visions of "one day" or to Belle's cartoon-rendered version -- but one that could help people, just as I had originally dreamed as a child. Only by letting these books go will I be free to continue pouring out my life into the lives of others. There are people who need to read the words on these pages now, not 30 years from now. And of all the gifts I have within my spirit to help the world, continually dusting my books that no one reads is not the best use of my energy.

If I am to continue on my spiritual quest of personal growth, I have to learn to let go. I still never got around to reading some of these books. But many, I have read, and they served me well during whatever season I desperately needed them. Now, it is time that they serve others. I am learning to trust that I will always have whatever I need at the exact moment I need it (just as I always have). By keeping these books, love them though I do, I have come to feel that I am robbing others of their chance to learn from them. And so ...

These books just don't belong to me anymore.

I trust that you will be able to make use of them. If some are of no use as part of your library, you may choose to sell them or give them away to people you deem in need of their words. I am confident you'll know exactly what to do with them, just as I have discovered exactly what it is that I am to do with them.

May these precious books bring joy to others in measures far surpassing even that which they brought to me. Bless each one of you and all the good work that you do to serve this beautiful community. You'll never really know the full extent of your impact.

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