I carry many things throughout my life that I hold dear. Some are simple memorabilia, others are precious items that I bought or gifts that I treasure to this day. They are not necessarily sentimental items, but they seem to give me strength whenever I look at them or play around with them before I get on with my life. As each item is associated with a different idea and emotion such as courage, dignity, or perseverance, I tend to refer to those items whenever I feel that I am lacking any one of those coveted feelings. Perhaps, of all the items that give me strength is my bookshelf.

I bought this bookshelf from a bankrupt bookstore, “Off the Beaten Path,” which sold steampunk memorabilia. The bookcase represents for me curiosity and intelligence every time I look at its streamlined lacquered shelves. The fact that it is so large and full of books that I have yet to read, gives me the feeling of yearning to read one, even when I am backed up by school work. It also serves as a way to distract me from the gripping pull of the idle chatter of social media and my legions of Firefox tabs in order to inform me of what is truly important – my education in college and beyond.

Besides having the bookshelf to remind me of getting back to my schoolwork, I also have a set of amber prayer beads that are considered a mark of wisdom in my culture. I always wanted to have a pair of this type of beads because they might help me to think along and rid me of my occasional writer’s block or mental stagnation. Although I knew that scholars used them to help them focus on their prayers, these prayer beads are extensively used in Christianity, Buddhism, and Islam. I did not know that my people, the Juhurim of Azerbaijan, had also used them to rid their minds of worry. I still use these beads from time to time, but the magic that I initially felt about them fell away and they are nothing but a large shiny chain of tree sap. Perhaps when I learn more about my Judaism, I will find a serious use for these prayer beads.

Aside from items relating to the cultivation of the mind, I do have some items that are tailored for the refinement of the body. One of which are my pair of light-green Nike Free running shoes. The Nike Free shoes represent for me freedom because in order to be truly free, one must be strong and independent. As the shoes conditioned my feet to be stronger, I was able to run faster in my normal, cushioned running shoes and hence felt as lighter and freer than before. Although I am not as independent as I wish to be in several aspects of my life, I still remember my Nike Free shoes and the rush of the wind, as I raced with them around the subdivision, luckily without any neighborhood dogs rushing to my side.

The last thing of importance that I refer to would be my iPhone. Many people may state how crucial a piece of technology is to their lives, but for me, the iPhone represents a shift in thinking and habits, both good and bad. This slick piece of sophisticated plastic represents security and versatility to me because the apps can be truly lifesaving in certain situations. To some, the iPhone can be thought of as a digital Swiss army knife, designed to create shortcuts in life, much like a computer hacker could tear and mend a program to attain a desired need. While most of my friends feel the constant pressure to buy new Apple technology in order to feel part of a more up-to-date circle, I still keep my older iPhone 4S since it has most of the software and hardware that I could want from a smartphone. I cannot imagine seeing any form of digital technology as little more than  quick means to an efficient end, so I will not bother to purchase another iPhone unless the need arises.