The TALONS group hit the streets of downtown Vancouver this past week, barricading sidewalks and wreaking havoc with every step. Our destination? Vancouver Public Library.
Now that we have chosen our notable figure to study, the next step is to get to know that person little better. And what better place to do this than the 6 floored architectural giant known as the Vancouver Public Library? It was overwhelming to say the least. Our ninety minute time frame did not allow much time for browsing, so I took a more direct approach, searching for my eminent person in the library’s directory. I proceeded to jot down some titles and make my way up the massive collection of escalators until, through some miracle, I found the material I was looking for. I was pleased to discover that there was quite a few books that would assist me in this month-long endeavor, but time was already ticking away at this point. I chose to spend the remainder of my time wandering through the musty-scented library, drifting wherever my legs would take me.
There was a certain feeling of insignificance that I experienced during my time at the library, a peaceful sort of removal that left me feeling… humbled. I was merely a small speck in the sea of countless books and in the millions of carefully crafted words that filled their pages. It seemed obvious to me that I was only visitor in this vast expanse of literature, but the thought of spending a lifetime exploring it was not at all unattractive. But even a lifetime would not be enough to even scratch the surface. Ninety minutes seemed almost cruel.
After finding my needed material, I don’t believe I even took another book off of a shelf. I spent my dwindling minutes soaking up the sight of the plethora of books, old and new, arranged so neatly in a sort of time-defying collection. Words that were penned hundreds of years ago sat alongside the newest musings of the 21st century. It was an intriguing sight indeed, to behold the very works that have documented our existence here on Earth, and farther back still. Each of our eminent people have made some sort of notch on this impressive timeline, leaving behind a legacy for the rest of us to celebrate. The notables of the past and present each have something meaningful to contribute to this long-running scrapbook of humanity, and I suppose that is what makes them truly notable. My [perhaps ambitious] hope, is that one day, my notch on the timeline will also be a significant one.
After I managed to pull myself away the library, books in hand, our group was again welcomed by the sight of the bustling city; the sight of which we would soon explore on a considerably deeper level. As we found our places for our Urban Solo, we took time to observe the fine workings of city life and architecture, but similar to in the library, there was this reoccurring feeling of smallness, of insignificance. Our group became part of the city landscape; the bustle of people walking by didn’t give our group a second look. Each and every person seemed to have a destination, a final point in their journey. But our purpose was to observe, to breathe, and to listen. It was a calming experience, to sit back and to watch rather than partake in the buzz of activity that surrounded us. And as the group was herded back together, I felt refreshed as we continued on.
After making our visit to MacLeod’s Used Book Store, our adventure downtown was drawing to a close. Slightly tired, but still happily gripping our books, we headed back to Coquitlam
If you were to ask me what I had learned during the course of that lovely Thursday, I could say a several different things. I could say that I learned what it really meant to feel inspired by the sheer vastness of books; or that I learned that time is a valuable thing when exploring a massive library; or perhaps that there is a book in this world that outlines the basic techniques of seducing a vampire.
It was an enriching experience either way.
As I continue on in exploring my eminent person, Sally Ride, I hope to continue expanding my knowledge on this interesting woman, but to also to create more engaging learning experiences through this project. Our trip to the library wasn’t strictly to find information on our person of study, but to provide opportunities for curiosity and for reflection. I don’t find it hard to imagine Sally Ride contemplating similar thoughts, such as the feeling of insignificance, especially considering the fact that she has had first-hand experience drifting through the vast realms of outer space. Perhaps she also wondered what her lasting legacy on Earth might be, and how people would remember her accomplishments. I think that it is in human nature to consider such ideas, but what separates these notable people from everybody else is the fact that they had the drive to change their hopeful thoughts into realities. And perhaps as I continue to study Sally Ride, some of her drive will rub off on me.