A couple of days ago I commented on a post by Zat Rana where he opined that you could tell a lot about a person by what they read. My response below ends with “what does, or how does, what I read tell you about me?
I awakened this morning to the thought of writing about information overload and my response to it. As you’ve described, I could find myself all day reacting or responding to my inbox. Confessedly, it is addictive to read something and in real time react and follow the thread wherever it might lead. In non Covid times this habit would be tempered or interrupted by personal human interactions. The space or interval of time between the human connection and the return to the inbox was/is instantaneous. The stimulation there seemed endless and the rapid response gratifying, that is, until it’s not. What about reading?
Now make no mistake, I love to read. I’ve read a book a week since 1985. The habit of reading started when in 4th and 5th grades. I was banished from the classroom to my own desk in the hallway immediately outside the classroom door. To this day it is lost on me as to the why of “to your hallway desk”. Nevertheless, it was what is was! Oh, just in case you’re wondering I did not tell my parents nor did the teachers give up the to them the details of our mutually convenient bargain. Apparently back in those days both teachers and students were left to their own devices. Parenthetically, the hallway desk provided me with status combined with envy or awe by my classmates. The playground and after school became the time when I taught my peers what I had learned from books that day, while they were wasting time regurgitating information back to the teachers. Let’s say information is power but only if leveraged.
Oh, back to books and reading.
The hallway desk became a preferred spot or kind of nirvana where over time I read every book in the school library. Many books, particularly history and biography, were read multiple times. Periodically being called back into the classroom felt like an interruption to my real education. I love to read.
Fast forward to the new normal. Being homebound feels like a return to my childhood hallway desk. In one respect though, it is different by quantum. If you are like me between the news and the flood of Covid 19 advice, podcasts, webcasts, e mail solicited and not…. it’s overload on steroids. I’ve written about that before somewhere. Now, my role as a guide is partially to serve as a curator of information for clients and also for my own curiosity. By all accounts my skill to absorb, distill and recall key resources at just the right time is valued, daresay a strength. It’s oft been said the all strengths can turn into a weakness as in one’s achilles heel. Is it possible to know everything? Of course not. Is it possible to curate everything? Of course not. My behaviors, though, reflected the belief that I could… no matter how irrational that belief might be.
From my hallway desk I got to choose with my own intention what books to select to read. There were a few interruptions but these were rare and barely slowed down the process. Somewhere along the line I set objectives like reading every book in the library, (accomplished early in 5th grade) as well as many other intermittent objectives. Mostly, I loved to follow the thread from one book/author/idea to another making the connections all along.
What’s the point of writing or responding to yours?
One is, thank you for the reminder as to the importance of being intentional about reading, reading deeply, with both intention, a mix of serendipity and for just the joy of it.
What does this tell you about me?