Places Where Time Stops

I love bars.  In fact, bars and good libraries are my two favorite places on earth.  I can sit in both for hours.

I even like chain bars.  They at the least offer a good selection of beers and televisions with sports on them.

However, I mostly love the small neighborhood bar.  Old stained wooden bars with actual brass rails for your feet.  Surly yet friendly bartenders who have been there forever serve you (if you’re lucky) locally brewed beer.  There are usually patrons who know each other, know the staff, and some of whom will actually talk to you even if you aren’t a regular.

Bars are great places to relax and be yourself while enjoying being with and around other people.  Once you come in through the doors whatever else is going on outside is left there.  Entering a good bar is like entering a warm embrace from a friend.  I think I just described the whole premise behind Cheers.

Libraries are different.  A good library is like a cathedral.  It is a sacred place that houses all of humanity, and all the knowledge it contains is free.  All of what came before and what may come in the future is yours if you are willing to accept it.  All you have to do is walk in, pick up the books, find a nice quiet spot, and read.  Today, however, finding that quiet spot is becoming increasingly difficult.  In smaller libraries with the computer labs, wifi connections, and other sundry things going on it is sometimes difficult to find a nice spot to just read.

Whenever I enter either a bar or a library time stops for me.  There is no out there.  There is no hurry to be somewhere or do something.  There is only being in this place and enjoying everything that it provides.  In their own way each provides a sense of community and of belonging to something greater than me.  Bars give you an immediate connection to the world.  A visceral, “you are here” now feeling.  Libraries connect you to the past and to all of human history.  If allows you to debate and wrestle with the greatest ideas and words ever written.

Many will ask, “Can’t you get that in church or with your family?”  Yes, most people do.  Maybe it is some flaw in me or some defect in my emotional state, but I don’t always feel that with church or family.  Maybe there is some screwed up part of me that would rather be with 20 drunken strangers or my favorite dead writers.  I can’t say.  Honestly, I don’t want to say.

All I know is this, many a moment in my life has been spent sitting on bar stools hearing a goofy joke/story or walking down musty aisles trying to find the next old big idea to wrestle with for a couple of hours.  That may be a flaw that will come back to bite me at some point in life, but I’m willing to risk it.


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