I finally had to take some time off from writing here simply because there’s so much else to do. I’ve written about this before- trying to consciously choose doing something constructive with my time and thoughts here on the blog rather than fritter away the hours I have on Facebook or browsing celebrity gossip. And even then, there’s so much to do it can’t all be crammed in to each and every day.
So for the past while, I’ve been reading every single chance I’ve had. A physical book may still be preferable to e-readers, but my kindle lets me slip a thousand books in the back pocket of my jeans. And considering weight and space limitations when deployed (as I currently am) to Afghanistan, this little thing has become my best friend over here. Well, my kindle and the cans of flavored Blue Diamond almonds my wife sends me to break up the chow hall monotony.
I’m guessing it took me a total of about three weeks to read all seven Harry Potter books, and I’m really glad I did. I enjoyed them immensely. This deployment has been really good for me in some ways, as my last one was spent mostly writing in this blog, then watching movies and playing video games. I feel more… Aware? Quicker thinking? The description for what I’m feeling is escaping me at the moment. I think I’m just happy to love reading again. I loved reading as a kid, and then television slowly took over… Some books by Ayn Rand and then The Art of Racing in the Rain rekindled my love for reading a scant few years ago. I loved reading a novel that seemed to qualify as “literature” and actually finding it engaging instead of boring and dry (or relying only on thrillers).
I thought for a brief moment I was going to get to be one of the literati, a high and mighty intellectual snob looking down my nose at those simpletons that watch American Idol. Turns out, not so much. (Though I still shake my head at the popularity of reality TV.)
I’m guessing I don’t read as quickly as I used to. And certainly the chaos of my office mates raucously shouting at each other, launching aircraft (actually having to work), and letters home to my wife or messages on Facebook all conspired to slow my reading. Because of this, I sometimes wonder how educated on a topic some people can really be. There’s so much to be caught up on, and seemingly even peer pressure to be aware of everything in the news. Mad Men, Breaking Bad, Sons of Anarchy, The Walking Dead, the latest book or album, the movie sure to be nominated for an Academy Award… That’s before the quite possibly endless amount of distraction on the internet from YouTube, Facebook, etc. (Fun fact: more hours of video were uploaded to YouTube in the last year alone than ABC, CBS and NBC have ever broadcasted in their existence combined.)
Frankly, this makes me think a lot of those oh-so-learned folks are full of it. Everyone who claims to have been through The Chomsky Reader and Dharma Bums and also professes to speak from any position of authority when combating, say, the Tea Party or Ayn Rand’s views or Cato Institute… And then turn around and comment on the latest in pop culture… No, I think it’s far more likely that even those who preach from on high simply fill their heads with what they prefer and take summaries or allow their opinions to be dictated to them by others. There’s just no way they’ve actually read all sides of so many social arguments. I just can’t believe any men’s magazine like Esquire is staffed by people who are actually up on everything they publish (which is why they have so many different contributors to create an issue).
So I don’t feel that bad about skipping my blog for a few days in order to read more or write my wife more love letters. And I certainly don’t feel bad about not seeing this movie or that TV show. I still have my vices, and can’t wait for the last few episodes of Breaking Bad. And I don’t feel inadequate or “lesser” for reading what I assumed were kids’ books instead of the latest hoity-toity novel by some pompous author. (Right now I’m thinking of American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis. The books becomes monotonous and excruciating to read, while the film made the same points much more succinctly.)
And even now, with all the noise from aircraft, phones ringing, and a coworker who is the stupidest, loudest, and most boorish individual I’ve had to bite my tongue around in years… I’m still somehow strangely appreciative. Because as much as the interruptions frustrate and annoy me, or even fluster me when I’m under pressure or time constraints, it’s reminded to me to prioritize and maintain a clarity of focus. If I have to ignore the blog to prioritize writing to my wife (or reading books she loves so I can share that with her), then it’s worth it. And if it’s ignoring inane reality television, so much the better.
I know the best way for me to try and cram all my goals into the time I have is probably to block off certain hours of the day, or even dedicate certain days of the week to certain projects. But I still wish I had 37 hours a day so I could accomplish even more.