Today’s regular post is a little bit different. It is a small piece of creative writing I did. One evening, not so long ago, I felt a need to express something but wasn’t entirely sure what. That is how this imaginary dialogue was created. I hope you enjoy reading it and that it resonates with some of you.
A girl enters a book shop. It is full and empty at the same time. There are no people inside but there is a vast amount of books. Everywhere. On the shelves, obviously, but also on the floor in the corners, on the stairs leading up to the attic and down to the basement, on the round table at the centre of the shop, a couple are stacked on the carpet under the table, and a few are even visible from deep between the cushions of the large, soft chairs facing the table. A world existing in parallel to the one outside, which she just left. But why did she enter this shop?
-Good day to you! How can I help?
-I am not sure… [she looked a little embarrassed and surprised that there was someone else in the shop, although, of course, there had to be the shopkeeper] Are you the shopkeeper?
-Yes, I am. [he had a curious look on his face, it was more than just a polite smile, he seemed genuinely kind] Perhaps I can help you find what you are looking for?
-Unlikely, given that I don’t know what I am looking for. Or if I am looking for something at all…
[a moment of somewhat awkward silence and exchanged looks]
-Well, in that case, you have come to the right place.
-I have? [now she was really surprised]
-Certainly! What better place than a bookstore when you don’t know what you are looking for. And I am confident that you are looking for something. Otherwise, you wouldn’t have come.
-Maybe. I am not so sure as you appear to be. But in any case, how can I find something, if I don’t even know what I am searching for?
-That is an excellent question! Right, straight to the point then. Let’s see, where could you start… you know, I might say that anything will do, since you do not know what it is that you want to find, but I don’t think it will work like that. Do you?
-No, I suppose not… [this man is oddly encouraging, she thought to herself] I suppose my mind doesn’t know what it is yet, but I feel that it is… something. Not anything. Something.
-Exactly. That’s what I thought. Something! Now, how do you go about searching for a ‘something’? Hmm… well, perhaps it isn’t possible to find a ‘something’ in any usual way.
-What do you mean?
-Not in a direct way. You know, like going after something that you want or need having it clearly in mind. The usual way. In those situations, the question is more about the method. In your current situation, the question is really about the ‘something’ itself.
-But isn’t that a dead end? Is it possible to even start looking for something while still not knowing what it is?
-I wouldn’t give up too soon. As said, the traditional way will not do here, that is true. But would you care to explore some slightly less trodden paths of search? [his eyes widened and his whole presence became visibly excited]
-Well… I am not sure what you mean… is there danger involved?
-Oh, if you are after a ‘something’ and decide to leave the known roads to find it, there is no telling what might be involved! But perhaps that is the point, wouldn’t you say? Perhaps that is the only way how you can find and reveal your ‘something’ from behind its veil?
[Now it was her turn to feel the excitement grow. Only, it was mingled with hesitancy and cautious suspicion. But what if this bookseller was right? What if the only way to find this unidentifiable ‘something’ was… to change the way of searching? And what if it is the exploration itself, not the goal, that has guided her here?]
-Maybe you are right. But what do you have in mind, exactly?
-Right now, a nice cup of tea. Any good exploration needs good tea. Come, I’ll make us some.