That Emotion That Prevents You From Reading Books

My eyes get tired. I don’t have the time. It is hard to focus. And the many other excuses I have uttered throughout my adult life when it comes to why I can’t read even 1 book, let alone possess a steady diet of book reading, all seems intentionally crafted to me these days. I’ve managed to carve out two (going on my third) dedicated session where I carve out dedicated time and make book reading a priority. I’d say that in normal times I am to the point where I am always moving forward (albeit slow) with a book at any given time. Something I haven’t done for about 20 years.

This session I find myself in right now I am thoughtfully unpacking that emotion I have when I stop ready, or make an excuse why I open the laptop or turn on the TV instead of cracking open a good book. It is a well-known, yet uncomfortable feeling that provides me with a rich substrate for growing a diverse range of insecurities. The emotion has become an essential driver of who I am, or more aptly, who I am not.

I can read. I can read well. I actually enjoy reading. I know reading is better for me than television or the Internet. Yet, I still accept this lesser version of myself. I crave book reading, but the world around me seems to have all roads leading towards me not reading. The undercurrents always pull me towards reading something online or watching something on television. It all seems to be designed that way. I have to consciously battle these forces daily and make the decision to read a book instead.

The only thing that comes close to reading books for me is reading my news and blog feeds online. Social media, videos, and other sources just don’t do it for me. The cycles are too short. The feedback loops are too volatile. Reading a book is the only time my brain slows down to healthy levels, and living too long with a nutrient starved online information diet leaves you more susceptible to the forces working to convince you not to read. It feels like the frame rate of reading books or blog posts is of an acceptable speed, where anything faster has the potential to become too much like being on a hamster wheel and do not have deep enough roots or nutrients to sustain me.

Everything in life seems to pull you away from reading. Work, the Web. It all seems to demand your attention. I have long recovered from the urge to watch television being a stronger pull than reading a book, but I have just begun the same journey when it comes to the Internet. Largely because my career is wrapped up in being online, but I suspect there is more. I am still unpacking all of this, and as with the television I know that I will find my way out. I want to spend the bulk of my time in this second half of my life in a book, and wandering bookstores, libraries, galleries, and museums around New York City. I can feel the way the Internet depletes my shoulder and the way that a book replenishes my soul, I just need to get my actions, and the way I live my life in alignment with what I know is right.