I’ve always been a slow reader. With non-fiction books, especially so. I’ve always carried an element of shame over my lack of speed and the desire to be faster at it with me. For a very long time it’s been an uncomfortable shoe-pebble nagging me every time I pick up a book. In some cases, it has flat-out stopped me from even attempting to read some books. I’ll look at the size of them and think, "My gosh, that would take me years to get through!"
Further, this stands in sharp contrast to my wife. She’s an extremely fast reader, especially with fiction. I’ve seen her get through a 300 page book in a couple of hours. She averages well over a hundred books a year. I’ve often found myself quite jealous of her gift and the difference further highlights my inability and frustration.
So, in an effort to be more gentle with myself I’ve come to embrace my reading as a part of my practice. I call it Mindful Reading (more slowly — the opposite of speed reading). The idea that my lack of speed actually allows me to be more present with each word and idea. That, to feel shame and desire around this is causing needless self-suffering when self-kindness and permission are called for instead. So, if I read fewer books or it takes me longer to get through one it might mean that I simply was more present with the books I read. Mindful Reading is OK.
At least it makes me feel better.
I need a new book to read. But, of the 30 or so books on my “too read” shelf, none are speaking to me. I have a thought about books needing you to be in the right headspace and time for them. I often think that they are sentient and there is a cosmic agreement between the both of you, book and reader. Sometimes a pile of books will just sit there and none will be ready to be read. The books feel no guilt about it and neither should you. Perhaps, you wont be able to resist and pick one up and attempt to read it. But you will get a few pages in and find yourself slogging to get through. Neither of you are ready!
Be patient. Sometimes, we have to just sit and wait for the right book to come along and speak to us. To say, “We’re both ready for each other now.”
Some days you have to turn off the news
and listen to the bird or truck
or the neighbor screaming out her life.
You have to close all the books and open
all the windows so that whatever swirls
inside can leave and whatever flutters
against the glass can enter. Some days
you have to unplug the phone and step
out to the porch and rock all afternoon
and allow the sun to tell you what to do.
The whole day has to lie ahead of you
like railroad tracks that drift off into gravel.
Some days you have to walk down the wooden
staircase through the evening fog to the river,
where the peach roses are closing,
sit on the grassy bank and wait for the two geese.
(This poem really spoke to me today)
Much like Henry David Thoreau had three chairs in his house, I’ve come to realize that I generally have three types of posts for my online writing — what I’m collectively and quirkily referring to as “Rhoneisms”. These are…
- The first type what I’m calling and categorizing as a “thought”. These are the shortest the ones that are tweet length — 140 characters or less. These will often, but not always, be shared on Twitter.
- The next are the things I’m calling a “post”. These are longer thoughts — usually less than 250 words — that will live here as well.
- Then, there are my “essays’. The things of essay length — 500+ words. Those will get posted primarily at my personal site but also could end up in my newsletter.
Now, there are other things I’ll often share here as well, like photos, links with commentary, and quotes. But, mainly, my original writing falls into those three types.
Since I’m still experimenting with the tools I’m using for all of this and how it all fits together, I wanted to keep the essays and my personal site separate from the rest for now. Eventually, I plan to have all of this under one roof there. I want to be able to tell people to go to one site and have one place that is all me.
Where is here, exactly? This is my new “second place”. A place other than my main personal site. That place is where my essay driven work will still live. This place is for the things that don’t quite have a place there for now. This is one step in an ongoing move to better organize and consolidate my online presence.
The Random Post used to be that place for me. It was a Tumblr site. It served this purpose well enough. But, I have come to a time where I want further ownership over my words and work. I want to ensure it has a long term place on the open web. Tumblr is not the place for that.
I also wanted a place for the very short stuff. The thoughts I post to Twitter. Those will now originate here as well. I want to ensure those have a long term place on the open web
I’m also piping my Instagram shots through here too. Once again, this is about ownership and trust. I want to ensure those photos will have a place on the open web long after Instagram is gone.
There’s a few more thoughts about this place, my other online places, and how I plan to proceed in the future and why. Those will come in near-future posts.
My personal site may, in fact, be designed in such a way that keeps me from blogging more.
I have an idea for a redesign and way to fix that. Need to let it germinate for a bit.
That’s what I’m currently working on. I think most of us know when we start one. A project that we will be remembered for. One that we can imagine on our tombstones.
That’s what I’m aiming what I’m working on to be. To change way the we talk about the challenges we face. To have that change drive something even larger. To make a lasting impact.
“It’s most important not to keep art. It’s most important to get art into the world, so that everybody can enjoy it and have a connection.”
— Beatrix Rhone, age 8.
This is why we take her to art museums around the world. In Paris, we took her to 15 museums in 7 days. Her depth of understanding and appreciation is mature.