Checking Out a Human Book

My friend and I made a trip to the Ottawa Public Library recently.  We wanted to take part in the Human Library Project.  This is from the Human Library website: “The Human Library is an innovative method designed to promote dialogue, reduce prejudices and encourage understanding. The main characteristics of the project are to be found in its simplicity and positive approach.”

This year the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) radio worked with the Human Library.Org to host Human Library Days in 15 cities across Canada.  My friend and I  drove a fair distance to check out specific “books” based on our interest.   You can’t reserve a book before you get there and you can only check out one book at a time and then you must go back to registration to see if there are other times available with other books.  The system is designed on a first come, first served basis and to allow more people a chance to check out a book.  There are some “rules” for the discussion with your book as well.  

My Human Book was Theresa Dupuis. She gave me permission to write about our discussion.  She was listed under: blind octogenarian.  Here’s a bit of the discussion with her beforehand.

The time we had together (20 minutes) flew by.  I asked her where she got her zest for life.  She talked about the difficult things that have happened in her lifetime (including losing her sight) and her determination to move on.  She didn’t gloss over the hurt or sense of loss but she talked about the need to work with the cards you are dealt.  Theresa talked about her family and her upbringing as one likely source of her resolve.  She was a delight.  

Theresa brought some of the technology she uses in everyday life.  A book reader (she belongs to a book club) and a talking calculator.  She brought the trophy she received as Skier of the Year, this after she lost her sight.  And finally a sculpture of a mother and child that she proudly had on display.  

I asked Theresa how she learned of the various supports and assistances that are available to people who are sight impaired.  She said she did the research on her own.  Theresa used to work for a Member of Parliament in the Government of Canada and was well versed in how to find out how things worked.  She brought those skills to bear in dealing with her blindness.  

Looking back, I think she was filed under the wrong category.  Theresa should have been listed under “vibrant woman who lives without the sense of sight”.   I learned a great deal in the short time we had together.   I usually never check out a book more than once.  My view is there are so many books in the world, why spend time reading any one of them more than once.  When it comes to Human Books though, it’s time for me to change my tune.

From time to time we meet people who have a very special zest for life.   You watch them and wonder what it is that makes them tick.  Have you met someone like that? What was it that drew you to them?

5 thoughts on “Checking Out a Human Book

  1. Fascinating experience Barb. Something to look into. Two people came to mind when I read your story. They were other examples of living life to the fullest each day despite any adversity. One lived to age 82 surviving first bladder cancer and later a stroke. Several years later a UTI finally got the better of him, just 9 months after his wife/BFF passed. The other was a very special lady who lived independently at home until she was hospitalized post hip injury at age 97! She died a number of weeks later. In the previous 5 years she had lost her youngest son to a brain aneurysm and then more recently, her sister who was also her BFF. Is there a pattern here? Neither were quite as adventurous as your human book but what they shared with her was the positive attitude of working with the cards you are dealt. Other common elements included love for family, interest in the world around them, involvement in their respective communities and strong faith in God. Both were prepared to go when their time came. “Sing no sad songs for me” said the 97 year old. “Is it OK if I go join your mom now?” asked the 82 year old.
    Is that what made them tick? Definitely lessons to be learned.
    Thanks again for another thoughtful story 🙂

  2. Reminds me of the Temperance Society going to the bedside of a centenarian to get him to sign a statement that he owed his long life to never touching alcohol. He was propped up and someone held his hand to sign the paper when in the next room was heard dreadful shouting and cursing and smashing of things. Just ignore it said the old man, it is just mom and dad drunk again.

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