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JEAN SHEPHERD Learning Writ Large 3 of 6

The Library: My Whole Life’s Work was About to Begin

Sure enough, I go back to the library and this author had a lot of books.  So I took one out.  At first I didn’t quite understand it.  But I stuck with it.  There was something about it.  I couldn’t quite figure what it was but there was something that made you keep reading.  So I read two or three of these and backslid rapidly into the Oz stuff for a while, and then I found myself a freshman in high school.

I’m sitting in the study hall, which was also the library, and I was bored so I walked around and found more books by the same guy as before, so I took one and sat down.  Little did I suspect that in the intervening years, something had happened to my head.  You don’t know when you’re maturing.  All of a sudden something makes sense that didn’t before.  I’m sitting there not realizing that my whole life’s work was about to begin.

I wonder how many of us can actually trace our lives back to the point where we began to think about what we ultimately really would do in life.  At one time I had desires when I was about ten.  Yeah, it was that damn library!  Every time I’d read a book about something that really got to me, really scored deep down in my soul, well, I decided that’s what I wanted to do!

For example, I read two or three books that were written by deep sea divers.  For a while I couldn’t stop reading about deep sea diving.  And then another thing got me.  Movie stunt men. Particularly movie stunt flyers.  I took a book with pictures out of the library and read about this.  The captions said things like “Me flying a fighter plane through a barn” and “One of the most exciting moments in my early career—me leaping out of a dirigible.”  Wow, man!  So I decided I was going to be a movie stunt flyer.

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