Sunday, January 27, 2013

When I Don't Sit Down to Read or Write

It's not so much about standing while reading. It's about not reading at all.

I didn't know my life could look like it does now. I didn't know it could look like not reading.

Maybe an outside observer wouldn't notice. I have four books and two journals sitting on my nightstand. This does not include my Bible and several Nouwen books I've been toting around. This does not include my journal.

What you may not observe is the inward anemic mental and spiritual state that has been forming.

I haven't been reading. I haven't been writing.

I've thought a lot about both this month. It's been cold. I've had more tea than is good for my prematurely yellowing teeth. I've seen people. Worn scarves. Talked about words and talked about essays. I've defended the need for scholarship and staying human through creative words.

But I haven't gotten more than 20 pages through my new copy of this month's IMAGE journal. I haven't made any progress on Crime and Punishment since the summer. Even "Love Does", that pithy collection of vignettes hasn't held my attention.

I opened my journal. I hadn't written anything since the third day of January.

These are strange symptoms, my friends. They are symptoms of a hurry I did not realize had crept in. I had embraced the hurry. Embraced the urgent. We belonged to each other, the hurry and I. It hadn't even felt like hurry, all those shiny urgent things asking for me to tend to them. The emails, the meetings, the late night conversation, the things that kept me up late and sleeping in late, the next thing to the next thing.

I'm a mean person when I don't read and write.

"Mean" can be "small". Petty. Trivial. Or harsh and biting. I am both sides of that slim coin. Situations are much grander than they should be. My emotions are far more valuable than truth. People are nothing to stop for in the harsh, pointed fury of my own self worth.

I suppose there was time in this month. But I missed it. I didn't even journal the hurry. I chose something else. I chose meanness.

"Scholar" is rooted in the word "leisure". "There cannot be philosophy with leisure". There cannot be clear thought and intentionality without space and clarity. We cannot be fully human without the ability to take space and exist outside of hurry, a possibility even within the hurry.

The mind and heart start cramping. Lack of oxygen slows the movement and the process and the life. Simple critical thinking makes me breathe harder than it should.

I'm ending this Saturday attempt ("attempt" is the key word) at rejuvenation with some of IMAGE journal. And putting pen to paper in my own journal in the morning. I've missed this.

So to those to whom I have been small minded, bitingly cruel, impatient, and self important: I'm sorry. Please forgive me. I intend to read more poetry this coming week and that should help.


Alexander Brazie said...

As an athlete needs meat to build muscle, so too does a sharp mind need fresh ideas and challenges to grow.

Sarah Bomgardner said...

I second all of this. Those splinters in your eyes are my logs.