A Book That Knows All

My mom used to tell people that I learned to read at the age of four. I don’t know if that is true – I know that she liked to brag with my abilities, maybe that is a natural thing for mothers. Anyway one of the first things that I discovered after I could read was my parent’s bookshelf, and one book was especially fascinating – a lexicon. My mother said that I was excited because I thought that this was a book that seemed to know everything about everything in the world.

I read a lot in it, probably without understanding much, but I felt that it opened a world to me. One thing that I found particularly fascinating about it was the beautiful color plate section. It inspired me so much that I started my own lexicon, scribbling down and drawing endless lists of things – birds, gemstones, flags, fruits, traffic signs, just like I found it in the book, but extending it to cars, radio songs, cigarette brands, chemical elements, capital cities, volcanoes, dinosaurs … just anything I could find as long as I could put it into lists, page after page. Apparently lists of things were endlessly fascinating to me. Why doesn’t it surprise me that I work with databases today?

The original lexicon has disappeared in the meantime. A couple of days ago I found myself ordering another one from eBay for a few Euros – a worn out copy from 1956, as old as the book that I loved so much when I was very small. Now when I look at the images again, after almost half a century, there is a very distinct sense of remembering and nostalgia. Am I the same person as I was back then, or am I someone different?