Tag Archives: imagination

Man’s Best Friend, Outside of a Dog


“Outside of a dog,” wrote Groucho Marx, “a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read.”

Groucho is also the one who said, “I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book.”

When you think about it—and reading and thinking have always gone together—reading is well nigh miraculous.

Pick any amazing historical figure you care to mention. If they wrote anything, or if anything worthwhile has been written about them, you can get deeply inside their heads, think their thoughts, view the world through their eyes, listen to them deal with questions, handle criticism, overcome challenges. You can get on board with them as they live their lives—even if they quit breathing centuries ago.

No writer has influenced me more than C. S. Lewis. He died just as I was learning to read, but reading is why his death is no barrier at all. And I agree with him: “You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.”

You can travel anywhere, do anything, be anyone, through the pages of a good book.

Just this morning, I spent a little time trying not to get caught as I wormed my way through tunnels dug by the Vietcong during the Vietnam War. I didn’t stay there long.

On this same morning I tendered my regrets to an Episcopal bishop who’d asked that I serve as interim rector at a picturesque though presently troubled little mountain church.

Not that long ago, I spent over forty days afloat in the Pacific after my bomber was shot down in World War II.

A week or so ago, I was in the room listening to Clementine Churchill telling Winston, soon after victory in Europe, that the lost election costing him his post as Prime Minister might be a blessing in disguise. I heard him growl back, “If it is a blessing, it is very effectively disguised.”

What books do for us is utterly amazing. Got questions? Really big ones? Read a book!

Does God exist? Why does he allow pain to exist? What is his will? Is Jesus his Son?

Read the Bible, the best of books, and let the Author use it to shape your faith. Read it even if you’re not a believer. Why? Because no one in a world shaped like ours can afford the incredible ignorance of not reading the book behind so much of the shaping.

If you’re a believer, why would you not read the words, in the Bible and elsewhere, of the most amazing believers this world has ever known, and learn from them?

Weary of this world at times? Who isn’t? So who in their right mind would stay in it all the time? Take a trip to Narnia or Middle Earth or even Mitford or Harmony or Lake Wobegon or . . . absolutely anywhere.

You can go wherever you want to go. Just open a book.

It’s no accident that God’s Son is called by the Apostle John “the Word.” And no wonder the Apostle Paul, even in prison, asked Timothy: When you come, bring my books.


   You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com!

Copyright 2015 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.

Too Old? Only If Your Imagination Has Withered



I turned 57 the other day. No big deal, even though 57 is widely recognized as a serious milestone.

I’m sure if you “Google” it, you’ll find all sorts of articles and blogs where “Baby Boomer” folks like me wax philosophic about the big 57. My generation has always been gifted when it comes to navel-gazing about things that don’t matter.

Truth be told, I seemed to skid right on past the big event with barely a bump in the road. That may have been because my math skills are nonexistent. I spent a good bit of last year sitting on the fence between 56 and 57, literally and figuratively. I was fairly confident that I was one or the other.

But just to set my mind at ease and to stay razor sharp mentally, from the top of the fence I stopped a couple or three times to do a little math (the only kind I ever do). Since I suspected that I was already 57, it was nice to discover that I was younger than I thought.

Yes, I did that several times. You’re right, of course. I should have just written it down—scrawled “56” in big letters on a Post It note and then stuck the sticky in the stacked up “leaning tower” stack of those notes I collect to keep me right on top of important events.

It’s a pleasure to dig down through that sticky pile just often enough to get to throw away the half of the notes connected to monumental events that have already happened that I can now forget about. And it’s gratifying to know that I’ve saved time and been ahead of the game by forgetting about them already, long before a less gifted forgetter could have been expected to forget about them. A guy who can’t remember if he is 56 or 57 is world-class talented in the “forgetting” category.

I guess I also forgot to be alarmed by the fact that I kept forgetting the result of my math. I’ve been too busy living life and aging to worry much about aging.

But two things—make that three—cause me a little anxiety.

First, I’ve lived long enough to see styles returning that I thought had mercifully expired at the end of the seventies. Once around was more than enough, thank you. (I’m immensely thankful that our styles weren’t tattooed on.)

Second, I’m hoping that maybe a shaky season or two during my forties will count as a “mid-life” crisis. It’s not only too late to go through one now—I can’t spare the time—the math worries me. If I had one now, at 57, would “mid-life” indicate that I’d have to hang around until I’m 114? I’ve got far better things to do and a much better place to be.

Third, though there is no doubt at all that the best thing about being 57 is getting to jump into a second childhood with your grandchildren, those little grandfolks are starting to grow too tall. I’m afraid my heart will break if the magic fairy princess castle out in our back yard ever turns back into just a shed.

What’s “too old”? It’s when your imagination withers and your heart starts to calcify. No wonder the Eternal One hugged children and said that the way to be saved is to be like them. At any age.


       You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com!

Copyright 2014 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.

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