Have you ever looked at something you look at every single day and seen it for the very first time?
The original time this happened to me I was probably twelve years old. I noticed a giant tiger staring at me from over the record player in my family room. He was lazy and composed, not at all looking like he was about to eat me or scratch my eyeballs out, but he was in a frame that was about five feet tall with a glowing orange background. It wasn’t like my parents were way into animals or anything, and I remember thinking, “This is weird. “ It was 1986.
The same thing happened to me in the library where I work last summer. Even though I had been looking at the walls every weekday for about four years, I had never really seen them. So one summer day, my eyeballs saw the walls.
“This is weird.”
Into my face one poster screamed, “Reading into the new millennium!” in an old-timey glowing green font. Another featured an immense computer with a bulbous disk drive that was surrounded by dangerous looking chunks of pastel confetti. That one stated, “Libraries Compute,” in a very 1990’s tone of voice. Other posters weren’t speaking out so blatantly, but they were all now looking at me askance, hoping I wouldn’t notice that they too weren’t pulling their weight in the year 2014.
Can something be slightly horrifying? That’s how I would describe the feeling that was soaking the air in the library that summer day. This was so much weirder than the aloof 1986 tiger. I immediately decided I needed to take action. The walls of this library, where I was working my guts out to remain relevant to the middle school palate, were quietly undermining me. Mocking my every move and probably snickering about it to each other in old-timey fonts.
I began a quest to update the flare on my walls. You can see some of it below. I was often having internal struggles about whether or not I was going too cute. I love cute things, and so do some middle schoolers, but other middle schoolers get easily appalled. Well, they hadn’t mentioned the disk drive for four years, so I figured I’d take my chances.
I’d like to think I didn’t notice the walls for so long because I was so busy focusing on my living breathing customers. But really, the whole experience taught me something about looking. How long should it take a tiger, breathing hot tiger breath down your neck, to get you to notice him?
Seeing is just the very first step to changing, and sometimes that first step takes a slightly horrifying long time to accomplish.