Thursday, July 7, 2016

Libraries of Anxiety

Books and beauty
When I was in high school, I worked as a page at my local library in Huntington, NY. I was in charge of 770 – 799, which covered sports, music, photography, and videography. I remember trying to get through a book in my section, Hemingway's Death in the Afternoon, without any luck. Last year, I tried reading it again and failed – I simply didn't have enough interest in bullfighting to get through it. Although the library has moved to a beautiful new location, it still holds my childhood memories.

This morning, I paid a visit to the new library that opened a number of years ago. I saw a children's librarian listening to a book report for a youngster which reminded me of my summers at the library during elementary school. As a kid, I would have to read ten books before the end of the summer. After reading each book, I'd get a sticker to place on my report card. After the fifth and tenth book I'd summarize one, of my choice, to the children's librarian, who'd always smile in a welcoming way while I retold the tale. As I recalled this memory, I saw a kid summing up his latest book to a children's librarian. While looking on, I took photos of the quiet architecture and landscaping. Although I'm extremely discrete about my iphoneography, I wasn't clandestine enough.

Upside, Downside

Traveling between San Diego and Huntington gives me an opportunity to observe some stark differences in attitudes. While San Diego's known for its laid back attitude, New York is known for its uptightness. Throughout this past week, in Huntington, I continually noticed a contagious anxiety coupled with a low level of situational awareness. Yesterday, I discussed this with my former sixth grade teacher who's keenly aware of the issue. We agreed that it's due to a lack of worldly experience. (In her mid-seventies, she's a highly independent traveler who makes her way up and down the East Coast and the South to attend events and visit friends.) I have noticed the impatient agitation over the past week when driving while waiting second in line at a red light. On most occasions, I've watched the car in front of me continually creep forward, anticipating the green light, to the point that the car's rear axel was forward of the limit line while the traffic light was still red. This morning, I came face to face with this attitude when snapping a few photos at the library. A librarian confronted me, wanting to know why I was taking photos. The attitude's similar to that of being confronted by a police officer probing for a possible crime or violation. I gave the librarian a warm smile, to defuse her anxiety, and told her that I used to work at the library in high school. No, there are no policies about taking photos in the public library (especially in a discrete way); it was simply a lack of understanding of why someone would take photos of unseen beauty. Throughout this area there is a large fear of "different," followed by questions that are not so much intended for understanding, rather the questions are asked with a tone of a lack of acceptance.

I think a lot of fear comes from an imagined lack of control, understanding, experience and initiative people have in their environment which leads to a personal isolationism, both mentally and physically. I've observed the exact opposite when I've giving group tours of Apple's Infinite Loop campus. The Apple campus is not open to the public, but the public does have physical access to Apple's parking lots and sidewalks on the private Infinite Loop street. I suspect that many other, less outwardly focused companies, would confront other individuals and groups, on their grounds, and ask them to leave.

Focus outward and seek to understand, tolerate, and accept before rejecting and ridiculing. Different doesn't necessarily mean wrong. 

Anxious Excitement Kills The Sale

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