Saturday, April 19, 2014
Longing for the Bookish Past
A few paragraphs in, my mind fails to engage fully; my mind wanders. I'm not paying attention to the text. I used to read for hours when I was younger. How did I do it?
I don't read enough. My laptop distracts me, derails my activities and intentions, and occupies hours each day. It's bad. I know it's bad because hours on my laptop leave me feeling deflated, anxious, and weary.
But an hour spent sinking my thoughts into a good book leaves me feeling satisfied and calm inside. I miss that.
I don't read e-books. That's not my personal online poison. I just fiddle, flitting among Facebook, Pinterest, Google mail, the weather forecast, and my feed reader. Like a butterfly unable to settle, I go from empty flower to empty flower, hoping for a hit. After exhausting all my sources, at last I snap my computer shut. My brain is tired, bored, vacant. It hasn't been fed by the online experience; it's been sapped.
I remember thirty years ago, before personal computers of any kind, before cell phones, before my parents owned a microwave (ha!). I miss those days and don't apologize for it. Life was a slower pace, but more importantly our minds walked a slower pace and were given the luxury of time to absorb and process information. No flitting. No multi-tasking (or, multi-failing, as I've heard it called).
When I picked up The Plot Against Pepys this morning, I found it hard reading at first. The book is well-written, engaging, beautifully paced. The fault is not in the book but in my brain. I've trained it to sit lightly on the flowers I give it, to nibble a crumb from each spoonful and move on to the next. My brain is weak, unable to consume and digest meaningful volumes of text.
I'm changing that. I can't blame age, nor a busy home, nor little children, nor work. I blame myself for my habits. I won't give up my blogging or my connection with friends online, but I will control my feeding habits there. The satisfying bookishness of the past is a pleasure I will afford myself once again.