Monday, May 01, 2006

Reading vacations

Check out this post over at 50 Books on reading vacations. Doppelganger misses reading vacations, and although I'm not sure I've ever had one of these, I miss them anyway. They sound great. I've been feeling really busy these last few days and haven't had much time to read, and when I do read, I've felt rushed and distracted. If I go too long without an extended period in which I can read, where I can really concentrate and get absorbed in a book, I start to feel all out of sorts and all wrong.

Books can ground a person, you know? Make you feel like there's something stable and solid and still in your life. I think for readers, reading can sometimes take the place of prayer or meditation; it's a way to be still and contemplate something -- no matter what it is really -- and become absorbed and focused. I get tired of constant distraction after a while, and even start to feel a bit sick from it. Looking at one object for a while, spending time with one author, thinking about one subject or story can be soothing.

The best experiences of reading, for me, are like the best times walking or cycling: I am completely absorbed in one thing, my whole being is focused on it, and I forget myself. To be single-minded is a great pleasure. I've tried meditation a few times but haven't ever kept it up, and I'm not sure I ever really will. But other experiences can offer something similar -- I think what I most need is to learn how to fully focus on one thing at a time, to throw my whole energy and being into one activity, to become absorbed in the present and not be rushing off into past or future.