09 August 2011

Time Is On My Side...

About a week ago I was cleaning out my home. It's a chore that must be done from time to time because, though we live in a very small cottage, my family insists on bringing home all manner of 'important stuff' that they are sure they will need someday.  Well, being the evolved human that I am I decided to forge ahead and show a good example by weeding through my collection of books.  See? I wanted to say.  It's not so bad.  We can surely live with less.  If I can do it then so can you!  It's easy! 

I quickly amassed a pile a pile of books that, though each held promise at one time or another, just didn't live up to their potential for whatever reason.  Some were too fickle, another was too tedious, some were just plain silly and I just couldn't put up with their insistent yammering every time I looked at the bookshelf.  Anyway, a friend (and I use the term loosely) stopped by just as I was carefully organizing and cataloging the various tomes into likely piles that I could then distributed into the proper places.  Books suitable for the Church reading room in one pile, books for the local used book shop, the children's library and so on.  I ended up with a miscellaneous pile that I thought would be great to give away to friends and family.  Just because I didn't want them hanging about didn't mean that someone else wouldn't love them.  I told my friend that she was more than welcome to sift through the various piles and take whatever struck her fancy.  I braced myself then, for surely she would reach out in a giant bear hug and dive right into the joy that is FREE books.  That's what I would have done...

But she didn't.  And then there it was.  THE sentence.  She looked at me and said, "Oh, I really wish that I had time to read," casting a somewhat disgusted glance about my book strewn living room as if it were the landscape of the moon.  She went on to say that she was simply just 'too busy' to spend any time at all on reading.  As if reading were optional.  As if reading were anything but necessary.  I've encountered this before and I've often endeavored to find a snappy comeback.  One that would be simultaneously witty and erudite enough so as to prove how clever reading has made me.  At which point said NON reader would be immediately thrust into a fit of deep shame and thus being rightfully put into their place, would pledge to become a reader extraordinaire and beg forgiveness.

I could probably handle it better if people said reading is too hard for them.  Then I could point out that children as young as four have been known to do it, so surely they could as well.  I could handle when they tell me that they feel they are not smart enough too read.  I could repeat the bit about children as young as four and point out that reading actually stimulates brain cells and with baby steps they would actually find themselves becoming smarter and smarter with each printed word. 

These various thoughts and fears I can understand.  I can reason with them.  I am forgiving and kind right up until someone says "they are too busy to read".  That's when I lose it.  I lose all decorum and propriety because what these people are actually saying is that I somehow have more time than they.  That their life isn't as luxurious and carefree as mine.  That they are simply too important doing important stuff that I couldn't possibly understand because I spend too freakin much time with my nose stuck in a book.  I feel the weight of the judgement that mayhaps I am not as productive as the general non-reading public.  That mayhaps I do not contribute my fair share to the burden that modern life places on us.  I am not playing the game. 

Had I actually told this lady how much time I actually spend reading everyday I think she would have had some kind of apoplectic fit right there in my home.  I know for a fact that this woman spends several hours every day staring passively at a screen, waiting for clients to show up, waiting on the phone, playing Farmville, waiting, waiting, waiting everywhere.  She probably left my house to go home and plop herself down on her couch with a hot pocket to watch rerun episodes of "The Golden Girls".  But to suggest that she might actually do something that could potentially boost her IQ rather than reduce it seems out of the question.  I wonder if I am the only one who would rather read a book than watch another stupid television show?  Read a book or cruise the internet looking for nothing in particular?  Read a book or stare into space at the doctor's office?  I don't know.  I don't get it at all. 


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