14 December, 2013

A child's eye-view

The other day my sister showed me a 3-minute TED talk on 30-day challenges, i.e. undertaking something new, exciting, tough (and so on) for thirty days. Something you've always wanted to do but ‘never had the time’, or been too afraid, or whatever other excuse you can come up with. Well, this week marks the start of the first of (hopefully) many 30-day challenges for me.

Challenge 1: take a picture a day and blog about it. By the end, I hope to have 30 precious, unique memories that of the next month of my life. 30 days, 30 pictures, 30 memories
Here’s picture number one:

A child’s eye view

For the past two days I've been re-cataloging a children’s library, moving books from shelf to shelf (I have the aching arms and feet to prove it), getting my hands black with about 20-years’ worth of dust and making a complete mess of the library! I never in my life imagined I’d be a librarian but, starting in January, I’ll be the new librarian at a local primary school here in Zim. I vacillate between “yay, this is so exciting!!” and “yikes! I haven’t the foggiest idea what I’m doing!!” I have ideas and plans, this vision of what I would love the library to be and look like. But I’m not really a visionary type of person and I feel like I’m bumbling through a forest of chaotic pages, scary Dewey decimal codes, cardboard spines, so many words and way too much dust. And the dust knows more than I do. 

But I’m a complete nerd and I love books. I want to make books as magical and life-saving for the kids of this primary school as they have been (and are) for me.

At the library this week, one of my hardest, most painful challenge was moving six metal shelves a little lower down on the rack so that children can (try to) read the titles of the books on the top shelf (hence the photo). The shelves were heavy, my arms were tired, and I was making an awful racket dropping those silly shelves. Each time I dropped one I’d climb down off my chair, pick up the dang thing and say something to the effect of:

“Why the heck am I doing this? I’m hot, I’m tired, I want a cup of tea and this shelf is just not fitting back into the holes I got it out of in the first place. Is putting it one handwidth lower really going to make any difference??”

Well, maybe one hand width won’t be noticeable, and maybe the kids still won’t really be able to read the titles of the books on top shelf. But all the little, dirty, painful, time-consuming (and I must admit, exciting) things I’ve been doing are important. I'm building something big out of many small parts and getting to know the little parts of that something as I build (I wonder if God felt/feels like this when He makes a new baby). I now know that the library’s greatest contributor is Enid Blighton, that there are more bird books than other animals, that the picture books section is where I want to start reading when I get a free moment (followed closely by the children’s poetry section), and that even ballet gets its own dictionary. (I’m sure, as a children’s librarian, reading all these books is part of my job description.)

So I'll keep moving those shelves, shuffling those books around, making signs and trying to look at things from a child's point of view. I'm sure I'm making loads of mistakes, but hey, that's how you learn, right?