During the past weekend, part of my time was spent going through books. The number of books was clearly greater than the amount of available space. We had books stashed in various positions and corners of every bookshelf, with some stacked in a corner of the bedroom and boxed in the closet. With a new Kindle on the way, worrying about book space may no longer be an issue. It was time to clean out the shelves, nonetheless.

Sorting through books, determining which ones are worthy of staying and not being sent away for pennies-on-the-dollar, is an interesting task. Some of my criteria seemed to be:

  • Have I ever taken the time to read this book? If not, why?
  • If it was never read, can I remember why it was purchased in the first place? What was the purpose of it? If I can’t remember, then maybe it is time for it to go.
  • If it was read, was it memorable? Did it leave a lasting impression… a drop or stream of inspiration which I might want to return to or share with someone? If not, then it is time for it to go.

The ones that stay may be part of an essential collection or have some solid, meaningful reason for remaining on the shelf, standing tall between the bookends.

Bookends are really what our lives are all about – in this sense: there is a distinct beginning and a distinct end, and there is only so much we can fit in between the two.

We have a specified amount of time. Within the boundaries, there is only so much time to work with, and there is only so much we can cram in. What we place between the two bookends of life really determines what our life is all about.

  • Do we fill it with junk actions, wasting a lot of valuable time?
  • Do we focus on the wrong topics, leaving us, and the people around us, unfulfilled?
  • Do we jam in as much as we can, missing the opportunity to savor the really good, important moments?
  • Do we fill in our space between the two bookends with stories that are meaningful and really matter in the end?
  • Do we read the stories or the advice but then do nothing with it? It becomes just another seed on a barren piece of ground.

Bookends. What a great symbol. Only so much time to live. Only so much time to determine what is really important. Only so much time to fill the space with meaningful work. Only so much time to develop our life story.

After we are gone and someone else is going through our bookshelves, how will they determine what is kept? What will they keep? What will they remember?

Bookends. We need to live a great story with every space of time filled in the most meaningful way possible.

Bookends. Time bounded, opportunity limitless – what we do with both is in our hands.