I was so sick week before last. A whole unfortunate and unpleasant stomach thing, and I was left with no mental capacity.
I texted a friend “I read a Brandon Sanderson book in 2 days.”
She replied, “At least you did something productive.”
Oh. This is that thing that comes up sometimes.
Here is a thing about me:
I read the way most people watch movies or TV. So when I say I read a book for two days, I was implying I had utterly wasted two days. For other people, this would be like binge watching trashy TV for 2 days.
No redeeming value. Just brain candy. And barely that, because the brain wasn’t much involved. THIS Brandon Sanderson book was all limbic system.
I’ve read more than 20 books so far this year. Like I said, I read a lot. And when I share that information, I get this weird reaction “Oh, I should read more.”
MMmmmm… Don’t take my reading so seriously. Maybe 5% of the books were something more than entertainment
One of the books is Brene Brown’s The Power of Vulnerability. In that book she talks about how we have created lives that we need to escape from, using “Numbing” activities.
About 5 years ago it occurred to me that my reading was totally escapism. That I was coming home from work and diving into beautiful heroic worlds that were the OPPOSITE of my life.
I wasn’t being brave or present in my life. I was avoiding my life.
My reading was not enhancing my life; it was taking me away from it. Just as video games, or TV or Movies do for other people.
I became a more careful about my reading. I couldn’t just dive in and stay as I had been used to. I wanted my life to be full. I knew things had to change.
I started some mindfulness practices.
Well. That sounds very linear. I started to do some different things. I started to pay attention to my intuition. I say intuition, even though that word enraged me at the time. “WHAT IN THE NAME OF ALL THAT’S HOLY IS INTUITION? HOW DO I KNOW IF I HAVE IT?”
In hindsight, I can see what I didn’t at the time, which is that if I am escaping from the uncomfortableness of my life, I am not going to feel the subtle urging of intuition.
My numbing agent of choice, books, was me putting earplugs in my ears so I couldn’t hear the fire alarm telling me SOMETHING WAS NOT RIGHT.
The fire alarm had to be reckoned with. And more urgently, the fire it was trying to tell me about.
It was not subtle how I was unhappy. What was more subtle was how I had convinced myself that I had to stay unhappy.
And that my escaping into a good book was the best way to tread that very unfortunate water.
I recognized the behavior as unhealthy and began to pull away. Which did not make me happy. It made me very uncomfortable at first. Because it meant I had to deal with that annoying fire alarm.
That fire alarm was the intuition. Misery is not subtle.
But I’d stopped my ears up pretty good. I was like a blind man who suddenly gains sight…Took me a while to make sense of what I saw.
I did change the misery, though. And I learned about what mindfulness and intuition can do for me.
And I have a better respect for books’ proper role in my life.