March 4, 2018

Turning another page

The last year or so has been a bit of a struggle mentally and physically. No big events that triggered it, and I don't think it has reached the point of depression, but I have just felt unmotivated, uninspired, unworthy. Very "un" I guess.

I have slipped into the feeling of wanting to have done something, rather than actually doing it.

There are things that have been part of my life that I know would help, but I just can't seem to muster the energy to do them. I suppose they fall into their own poor alphabet of the three 'R's, reading, writing and running. I have slipped into that terrible hole that many of us fall into that leads to never really accomplishing what we wish. I want to have run, rather than to actually run. I want to have written, but now feel that I have nothing to say. I know that reading will help spark the writing, but I can't push away the distractions well enough to fall into a story.

I was not a reader growing up, though both of my parents have always been avid readers. I managed to avoid both parental and scholastic encouragement toward reading, once producing a book report by only reading the book jacket. I came to reading in my mid-twenties when Lightning struck (pun intended). Up until the past couple of years, I would always have a book at my bedside and took one with me nearly everywhere I went. I would easily fall into the story, shutting out the chatter and noise of the coffee shop.

I still love to read in coffee shops. To be alone in a crowd, with a nice cup of coffee and hopefully a comfy chair. Now however, I find it so much more difficult to shut out the noise, both real and imagined. The background world of conversation around me is a part of it, but these days it is more the distraction of the world behind the small screen in my coat pocket.

The lack of actual reading did not stop me from aspiring to have read so many books though. There are a couple of piles of books around the house and my list of "To Be Read" books on Goodreads stands at one hundred and twenty. I started using the Goodreads website almost ten years ago mostly to keep track of what I had read. More than once I would return to a series that I had stepped away from, picking up where I thought I had left off, only realizing three chapters in that I had already read this one. The past few years though, Goodreads has been more of a website of neglect (kinda like this blog). Whenever I saw an interesting book, I would add it to the reading list, and there it would sit gathering virtual dust.

I have been in a book club for many years, so that rather forces me to read at least a few books during the year, but it felt like more of an assignment than something I enjoyed doing. I tried to turn things around last year with partial success. According to my Goodreads tally, I read twenty books last year, but to be fair a few of those were shorter books on hiking. Twenty may sound like a decent number, but I have friends that managed to fit closer to fifty into their plenty busy lives. My mom may have pushed closer to triple digits on number of books read last year.

It is not about numbers though. It is how I choose to spend my time, and how I choose to take care of myself both mentally and physically. There is far too much screen time these days. Much of the screen time is not only time basically wasted, I think it is also chipping away at my ability to concentrate bit by bit (or byte by byte).

So, while I am still struggling to get running and writing out of the future tense and into the present, reading is making its way back into my life. I have been better about shutting off the TV, setting aside the phone, and diving into another world page by page. I just finished my seventh book of the year, and have really enjoyed losing myself in a book again. There have been some great books and I will try and pass them along in another post.

2017 feels like it was a year written off, like a year that I couldn't be bothered to care, which is a terrible way to live. I don't know if there will be better results in 2018, but I am focusing on effort this year. I don't know that it makes much sense to try and improve your life by regularly escaping to another through books, but it somehow makes sense to me right now.