Well, I turned 22 yesterday. 22 on the 22nd--pretty cool. It doesn't really feel much different from when I was 21, but at the same time I feel like I've crossed an important threshold. Growing up, 21 was the age I considered to be the biggest milestone, because it would close so many chapters of my life and open so many new ones (most notably, it would mark the close of my mission and the beginning of the post-mission life that always seemed so far away before). But 22 is kind of important, too, when I think about it . . . not so much because of what's happening, but what's not happening, or what's already started and is just continuing. There's not really any pressure on 22 to be a special year, and that in turn makes it extra special because it's been so long since I've reached such a laid back age. I'm another year older now--okay, now back to work. I like that.
But big or small, goals are always good to have. Life is a forward motion, but if you drift you'll still be as weak at the end as when you started. Recently I've seen a few of my friends make lists of 22 things they want to do before they turn 23 (or some similar variation), and I think that's such an awesome idea. I'd like to do something like it.
Mine is going to be a little different, though. I love trying new things and having a good adventure, and I continually strive to improve myself, too. Of course I have a few goals that I'd like to work on: actively participating in an orchestra and practicing my violin, attending the temple more diligently, taking more walks, fixing my bike so I can ride it again, selling some old stuff on eBay . . . and so on. I'm not going to ignore those, because they are goals I have. But for this list, I'd like to focus on just one goal: becoming more well read.
This is a lifetime pursuit, of course; even the most well read person in the world can read new things and learn from them. There's always room for improvement, and there's no ceiling to reach. That's part of the appeal for me. I love learning, and the thought that it never ends is to me what a bottomless chest of buried treasure is to a pirate.
Credit for this love of learning might appropriately be given to my parents, who among everything else especially made sure their children grew up literate. I remember as a kid, when school was out for the summer, the rule in our house was this: no TV, no video games, no computer, no friends--nothing--until we had spent a certain amount of time (according to our age) studying the scriptures, and an equal amount of time reading any other book of our choosing. It was one of the greatest things my parents could have done for me.
And that's what I hope to instill in my children someday. They can be whoever they want to be. They can play football, or dance, or make music, or garden, or paint, or any other thing under Heaven. But whatever they become, I at least want them to have a love for (or at least experience with) books and learning. I want them to know the scriptures, but I also want them to be familiar with fiction and history and science.
Well, that starts with me. It seems like whenever I talk about the goals I have for when I'm a father, there's always someone who comes out and says something to the effect of "You've got a long way to go; just enjoy single life while it lasts, because it's not coming back." I hate when they say that. I'm enjoying single life, believe me. I'm living in the present and taking quite enough advantage of where I'm at. Yet is it not wise also to prepare for the future? As missionaries, we had to find people to teach before we could teach them. Sometimes, even though we worked hard, we'd go days at a time without anyone to teach, and any lesson felt very far away. But when we found them, we couldn't sit in their living room and have our companionship study session right there. That was something we did in the morning, before we went out. That was when we prepared to teach. And so it is with this. Granted, I'm sure nothing can truly prepare me for fatherhood; but that doesn't mean there's nothing I can do to get ready for it. More than likely it's going to be nothing like I expect, but I can at least get a general idea of what kind of dad I want to be.
And so, I want to be the kind of dad who tells and reads stories to his children. I want to know enough stories that my supply will never run out, and I can always have an appropriate one for the occasion. I want to have wise quotes on my tongue passed down from good men in history. I want to know all sorts of little facts about plants and animals and the world in general to appease the curiosity of young minds.
With that in mind, you may see a bit of a theme in this list of books I want to read in the coming year. But don't think it's just for my kids; the beautiful thing about it is that these are books I've wanted to read anyway, on topics in which I'm already interested. Their future application is simply the icing on the cake, and adds a greater purpose to my goal.
But enough talk. In no particular order:
1--Treasure Island, by Robert Louis Stevenson
2--Race Rider, by Scott Hail (a friend of mine!)
3--The Fate of the Mammoth: Fossils, Myth, and History, by Claudine Cohen
4--Grimm's Fairy Tales, by the Brothers Grimm (of course!)
5--Early Masterpieces of Latter-day Saint Leaders, compiled by N.B. Lundwall
6--Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, by Lewis Carroll
7--The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
8--Fairy Tales, by Hans Christian Andersen
10--Ten Great Mysteries by Edgar Allen Poe (I'm not sure who compiled it, but it's the stories that count, right?)
11--The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, by Mark Twain
12--Gulliver's Travels, by Jonathan Swift
13--Ancient America Rediscovered, by Mariano Veytia (translated by my mom, so it's extra cool)
14--The Wit and Wisdom of Abraham Lincoln, compiled by James C. Humes
15--The Princess Bride, by William Goldman
16--Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, by Jules Verne
17--The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Other Writings, by Washington Irving
18--To the Rescue: The Biography of Thomas S. Monson, by Heidi S. Swinton
19--Hamlet, Macbeth, King Lear: Three Tragedies (another one whose compiler I don't know, but Shakespeare is awesome regardless)
20--The Eye of the World, by Robert Jordan
21--The Jungle Books, by Rudyard Kipling
22--Phantastes, by George MacDonald