I’ve told this story before — but then what stories are not retold.
One of my first memories is sitting next to my mom while she read to my brother and me. I think I was about three at the time and this wasn’t a picture book. It was a real book, I believe it was The Hobbit but that might be just me mixing up stories as she read so much to us when we were little.
Whatever the book was the part of the memory that remains clear to me is this. I remember not watching her mouth, or gazing out at the shelves of books across the room as she read, but instead, I remember looking at the pages of the book open on her lap. How mysterious and wonderful that she could look at the drawing and marks on the pages and bring to life a story. That’s what I saw on the page, not letters, not words, just triangles, circles and lines.
Since that day, I’ve been hooked on writing and reading. What’s funny is that another memory associated with letters popped into my head as I let my mind wander. It’s part of a semi-regular routine I do. I get up and get a little snack drink some water and coffee and then I’ll just sit in a quiet room and let my mind wander onto things past, present and future. Sometimes it stretches out onto something I’m writing or haven’t even begun writing.
Well, this morning it landed on the alphabet and I remember one of the first reports I ever did in my life for school. It was for Mr. Vogel’s class. It was on the Alphabet and where it came from. This of you who have read The Last Disruptor might recognize the name Vogel. I did name a character after this teacher. He was a great teacher.
I remember looking up information on the alphabet from a set of encyclopedia’s my parents had and it had pictures of the letters used in Mesopotamia, hieroglyphics of Egypt, Greek and finally Roman letters. I was most impressed with the development of the first letter, “A.” which looked like it started off as a representation of a bull or something and then progressed into the shape the Romans and we use today. The article didn’t cover Eastern languages, which is more of a failing of the 1960s when the articles was written, but it was still a very good piece.
Today, what I think about is how that took thousands of years for us to get our “A.” And, we’ve been adjusting the graphical representation of our languages ever since. I mention this because we’re seeing changes to the language popping up all around us. Some of them are good, some of them are just fads and will be dropped, but I do like that how we do this, write and read and communicate is a living thing, just like us. It reflects us and hopefully, we will create a written record that is a beautiful thing that will help people in the future move their communication in an even more significant and meaningful way.