Out Of My Mind

I am on a mission. I seek knowledge like nothing else, knowing that the brain is the most powerful tool that God gave people. I want to utilize mine to it’s fullest; I want to do as much with it as I can. A mind not in constant pursuit is a mind gone to waste. At my current state, I don’t know where my level of intellect lies. I feel pretty stupid half the time, and I’m not sure if that is a result of some outside factor or if it’s actually true, but I know that I have so much more to learn and there is one particular way I feel that I can expand it as much as I can: the exploration of books.

Every book holds it’s own little universe. Some will tell you facts, some will give you other realities, but they all have something to offer. I want to take as much as I can. Books are the most selfless creations on the planet; created, not just by, but for the author and then existing to serve as many people as they can.

This is why I want to explore as many books in my lifetime as I possibly can. The thought of all the information that lies ahead of me, waiting for me to discover it, is beyond exciting. As a future children’s librarian, currently working in a library and having been there since I was fourteen, even I am surprised at the number of times someone will ask me my favorite children’s author or book and I can’t think of an answer. I stick to the ones I loved as a child: Junie B. Jones, anything written by Beverly Cleary, The Anybodies, and that’s all that comes to mind immediately. I was an avid reader as a child (and never stopped, really), but it’s been so long since I’ve read these books that I can’t remember most of the titles or authors.

If I’m going to be a children’s librarian, I am going to be the best one I can be. Whatever I’m going to be, I want to be the best at it. I want to be the best friend I can be. I want to be the best wife and mother I can be when those things come my way. I want to be the best Christ follower I can be. I want to be the best human I can be.

My starting point is where I feel comfortable: the children’s floor. My goal is to read nearly every book in the library, skipping over obviously irrelevant books (I really doubt I need the potty training ones at this point, or all the SAT study guides on the teen floor, etc.). Picture books, chapter books, early readers, nonfiction, all of it. I want to be asked, “do you have any suggestions?” and be able to genuinely answer because I know what’s on the floor and where to find it. I’ll move on to the other floors of course when I’ve achieved that, but the children’s floor is the first big goal. And, I will document it as I go along. Not every book will have an individual post, but I want to keep track of my progress and let others in on this adventure.

So, this will be a big adventure and a daunting task, but I need to do it. I haven’t felt such a strong need to do something in a long time, if ever. I want to learn.

Then, there is the book that inspired this feat. The beautiful book that I’ve told everyone I know to please read: Out Of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper. I don’t know what I expected out of children’s fiction, but it was not this book. Children’s literature is as diverse and interesting as adult. In fact, probably more so because there’s more innocence, which leaves more room for complete and total creativity. Also, they’re straightforward. No beating around the bush; less unnecessary flowery language just to fill pages and sound intelligent. Simply written, but just as beautiful.

Out Of My Mind is the first book in at least a year that has remained a constant thought in my mind for at least a week now. I’m still excited about it even as I move on to other stories and characters.

If you do not know, it’s a story about a girl with cerebral palsy, unable to move or communicate or do anything on her own. The only thing she can move on her own is her thumb, which she uses to point at general words on a board attached to her wheelchair. What no one knows is that she has a photographic memory. She has no way of communicating this, which of course is frustrating for both her and the reader. She watches her little sister do all the things she never could, like learn to walk and eat on her own. Yet, she stays positive. Not in an unrealistic way; she gets incredibly frustrated and upset at times. She knows, however, that she will never not have this disease, so she might as well do her very best. She might as well expand her mind to it’s fullest potential, which is a whole lot.

Yes, it was an inspiring story, but it was more than that. I cried along with her, laughed when she did, and got angry all the same. When, not only kids, but the teacher at school thought she cheated on her test because she did really well, I had to put the book down. I felt connected to her, and found similarities to myself. I think that’s exactly the point. She’s a person, not a disability. Most of us, of course, say that we wouldn’t treat someone with a disability any different than the next person, but this book begs the question: would we? And would we realize it?

I thought at first that it was stupid of me to relate to her when she spoke of being unable to get words out, because my innate shyness is not to be compared to her physical disability, but then I realized how beautiful that really is. Here is a completely able-bodied person who cried when a disabled character described her condition, not out of sympathy, but because she’d thought the exact same things many times about herself. We are not incapable of understanding one another. We are different, yes, but an American is different than a Russian (or whomever from whatever country), yet we don’t see them as any less of a human. Just different in a lot of ways, but the same at the core. That’s where it counts anyway. I don’t understand most things a disabled person goes through, and of course they have bigger struggles, but how amazing is it that I was able to see myself in the mind of someone that everyone saw as nothing more than a girl who drools on herself?

That is why I chose Out Of My Mind as the starting point for this series.

Let me know what you think!

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4 thoughts on “Out Of My Mind

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