Monday, December 05, 2011

Taking Time

I engaged my reading sense this weekend.

On a random splurge at Half Price Books I obtained two books: one Neuromancer by William Gibson, which I hadn't read in many years, the other Shackleton's Way: Leadership Lessons from the Great Antarctic Explorer by Margot Morrell and Stephanie Capparell. It's been a while since I looked to just buying two books for the sheer pleasure of reading.

And read I did. Neuromancer was consumed within 4 hours (including a nap); Shackleton's Way was 2/3's done by the time I left for church on Sunday. I reveled in the opportunity to just sit and drink in good literature.

I compare that with this morning, where I tried to read a bit more of Shackleton's Way as part of my morning reading as I enjoyed it so much. It wasn't the same: I got some reading done, but it seemed I was hurrying so much that I barely had time to enjoy what I was reading, let alone absorb it as I had done the previous day.

The difference surprised me greatly. Same book, same me, but different circumstances in reading. In one, I read purely out of enjoyment with no time frame; in the other, I read in an allocated time frame, seeking to fit something else in an already loaded schedule. The results, both in my sense of enjoyment and my sense of learning, speak for themselves.

This vignette points out to me a core issue in my life: when I try to fit too much in, I scarcely enjoy any of it, whereas if I take the time to focus on what I am doing without a sense of "15 minutes", I derive true joy and learning.

It is not, apparently, that I cannot do many things in short bursts, it's that I cannot do them well or with a sense of gaining anything from them.

When, I wonder, was the time that reading became something I had to do in small bursts, rather than something I could do over longer periods of concentration?

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