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Kawhi Life: Time for peace and quiet in a loud city

The Raptors just lost two home games in a row, and Kawhi Leonard did not quite look himself when it mattered most. Maybe it’s time for some reflection.

NBA: Philadelphia 76ers at Toronto Raptors John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Kawhi Leonard is a Toronto Raptor — for at least one year. While the team’s on-court success has its part to play, we’ve decided to do our part in selling the city to the Klaw. Each week we’re talking Toronto, and letting Kawhi know what his life could be like here.

This Week in Toronto

When the noise of the city gets too loud, it’s nice to know there is a place — or places — to go to enjoy some peace and quiet. If you’re on the Toronto Raptors, like our guy Kawhi Leonard, it’s been something of a rough week — two straight losses at home, one of which coming about after an errant dribble by Kawhi denied the Raps a shot at setting things right. Folks, you hate to see it.

And I for one also hate to hear it. Fortunately, there is a solution. When things get a little too hectic, when I’m looking for some relief from the hustle and bustle of life, for a break from the stress of the ongoing work day, I know there’s always a place I can go. No, I’m not talking about some local watering hole (that can work too — though I don’t recommend it for professional athletes). I’m talking about the finest institution in this city: the Toronto Public Library.

Dating back over 200 years ago (yes, really), the TPL has grown to a 100-branch network of buildings dotting the Toronto landscape. There are small libraries in random plazas, and architectural marvels along major thoroughfares; some have been built in old churches, others are in new condos. There is even a fleet of bookmobiles motoring around Toronto at this very moment. (This last bit never fails to get me a least three percent more jazzed. As a kid, spotting a TPL bookmobile was akin to seeing a unicorn — it remains an impossibly amazing occurrence in my mind’s eye.) Go ahead and check out the map, there is probably a library closer to you than you’d think.

On the surface, the Toronto Public Library is like any other library in any other city — there are books to read, magazines to peruse, a selection of CDs, DVDs, and other media, a lot of shelving is involved. But within each branch: a world. Beyond most other public institutions, the TPL has embraced its place in Toronto as a community hub, one designed to provide resources, programming, information, and access to anything and everything a Torontonian, new or old, could want. The library has even gone a step further, hiring a social worker to help actively connect with each local community. That’s a lot more than just checking a book out for a weekend read. And remember: it’s all free. In fact, as others have pointed out, the public library remains one of the few indoor public spaces in which a person can go and not be forced to buy something. There’s peace to be found in that too.

Some of my earliest childhood memories involve being carted into the Rexdale Library to partake in various reading programs, and then going home with a huge stack of picture books. Later, my relationship to the library evolved into weekly checkouts of as many films as I could carry. Now it provides an endless stream of books under every subject I can think of — technical guides, graphic novels, the newest fiction, and everything in between. I work next door to the recently renovated North York Central Library, with its multi-tiered, multi-use areas for studying, crafting, active fun (there’s a video game set-up), and more. There’s just something immensely satisfying about wandering into the hush of the stacks on any given afternoon and just grabbing a book off the shelf, or sitting by the window and having a think for a few minutes before trudging back into the office. I don’t know how I’ll convene with the library next, but I can’t imagine not visiting. It’s a comfort to know the space is there.

And you know what else, if you (or Kawhi) don’t want to leave the house, the library can help with that too. With the help of services like Kanopy and Hoopla, you can stream quality films, check out TV shows, listen to music, and read comic books, all without getting up from your comfy easy chair. They really have thought of everything at the TPL.

Now, I don’t want to go all LeVar Burton on you here but, please, don’t take my word for it — just go and check out your local branch. You’ll be glad you did.

Should Kawhi Care?

Well, no.

(I don’t have a pithy joke to make here because I have no idea as to Kawhi’s reading habits. I do think he’s a guy who enjoys quiet contemplation time though. You don’t get an entire feature written about you in which the lede compares you to an gotdang island and not have some sense of remove in your personality.

And who wouldn’t want some quiet time after what’s been something of a challenging week for the Raptors. Now: shhhhhhhh.)