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The amazing printed word still holds sway

By RICHARD SHAW
Sun Advocate publisher

The other night I couldn't sleep. So at about 4 a.m. I finally decided to stop fighting the business problems running through my head and went into our television room and sat up for awhile. I wanted to see if I could get back into a state of slumber.

I was tempted to turn on the TV; you know to watch those so interesting infomercials that run on most of the cable stations all night. But then I looked up at the top of the television and there were three books I had started at one time or another in the past couple of months and the markers in them told a tale. It was a tale of unfinished business, all in varying degrees of incompleteness.

So instead of turning on the tube (maybe that term is outdated now with flat screens) I picked up the one that I had read the most, a biography about Jimmy Stewart, who always has been one of my favorite actors. I finished the book in less than a half hour.

Now in the reading mood, I started to search for other things to read. I didn't really want to get into one of the other books, so I picked up the latest issue of National Geographic and read and picked through it for another half hour. Then I looked at copies of the Sun Advocate and Emery County Progress that were sitting there. Finally I ended up with an old copy of a hobby magazine that was laying near my wife's computer that co-exists with the television in the room.

Not once did I turn on an electronic device, and I had fun, learned a lot and felt relaxed. So relaxed in fact that I was ready to go back to bed by 6 a.m. which is past my usual rising time. So instead I stepped into the shower and got ready to go to work.

My whole life I have been a reader. In recent times, like everyone else I have become enamored with the web and all its depth. But that on paper reading experience, in that one early morning, brought to me the value and amazement I still have about the printed page, whether it be in a book, a magazine or a newspaper. To see those words, spelled out on paper; to be able to read them and imagine; to be able to see someone elses thoughts, their lives.

In a sense reading is a reenactment of what others have done before me. Someone not only wrote the words I read, but I was reading printed text just like people who have long since passed. There is a sense of history, a sense of the family of man.

In my own family, my mother had read all the time and had never gotten rid of a book in all her years. An immigrant to the United States in the 1920's she never threw anything away, including even the trashiest paperback. It shows because I still have her books mixed in my library, which makes it much bigger than it would if only my interests were represented there.

Even after 58 years of education in this world (16 of it formal) I am still amazed by this technology of words on a page.

Why? I'm not sure, but I do know one thing.

I want to continue to be a part of it for the rest of my life, whether it is reading what someone else wrote or producing some of that ink on paper myself.




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