I have realized through the years, as others would marvel at my knowledge of movies and books, that I mostly had spent time reading about movies and books, rather than actually reading the books or watching the movies. When I began earning money, I purchased several books about movies. I recall a particular one titled “50 Years of the Oscars.” I read every word of that book. I don’t know how one would analyze my psyche — being someone who prefers to read about things more than just experiencing them. I enjoy Prefaces before non-fiction and fiction works. I enjoy the analysis of a work that might be included with a novel. A few days ago I found myself reaching a new low. I was reading someone’s blog entry about their Top 10 Fiction and Non-Fiction picks for 2011. I read the first entry and then the reader comments that followed. On the second blog entry, I chose to go to the reader comments first. I laughed at myself. The blog entries themselves were About books. But now I found myself attracted to read first what people were saying About what the writer had said About the books they had read.
My office has two windows. One looks out onto our front yard and my bird-feeders. Ninety degrees to the right is the other window looking out to some pine trees and a lovely uphill path. I especially admire the second view and find myself swiveling to the right often to look out that window. Once again, though, I realize that I spend more time admiring the view rather than being drawn to be out and be a part of the scene and truly experience it. We have been blessed with 20 acres of our own to roam around, yet I stay in here. I’m sure the mountain lion(s) and rattle and bull snakes have something to do with that.
At the risk of completely boring you, I’m going to share a few other stories of my past life to show how long this quirk of mine has been with me. I was in England many, many moons ago. I made my way up to Cambridge one day and immediately went to the bookstore. Wow! the Cambridge University bookstore. I found myself at a table of large picture books of local scenery. Then I said to myself, “Self, you have spent your whole life looking at books and dreaming of seeing these places. Now you’re in one of those places and here you are looking at books about it! Get out of here and go look at the sights!”
A few years back, my family gave me a mandolin. I bought a few books to get me started and then didn’t really stick to playing. I was traveling with my sister and brother-in-law across state and we stopped in some kind of country store. I headed to whatever books I could find, of course, and found some mandolin book. As I made my purchase, my brother-in-law said to me, “So you think the more books you have, the better you’ll be able to play?” His point was well taken. Stop buying books and just get down to it. If you’re not already using the ones you have, are you thinking one more will work the magic?
I am very attracted to books and the idea of reading and knowing, but I haven’t for a long time really read them. Now that I’m teaching my son, I have read several from cover and cover. And in the spirit of Charlotte Mason, James and I have really lived with these characters. Now to do that on my own.
So my resolve for 2012 and beyond is to really enjoy life and all that it has to offer for me. I need to not just know about things, but really know them from having experience them. I’m even going to challenge myself to enjoy some “meaningless” things — read some books, see some movies simply to enjoy them.
To get out and just go on my own is a bit challenging for me these days. In my single years, perhaps having no choice but to be, I was pretty independent. I used to drive all on my lonesome from my home in NY to visit my family in the south. Now it’s strange to go to the grocery store all by myself. For several years now our little family has owned only one vehicle, and so my independent lifestyle was altered. Staying put, making no plans, has become a habit for me. Now I have my own vehicle, yet I stay inside. As soon as I remember what all there was to do out there, and that I want to do those things, I’ll be back to living life out there.
As part of my 2012 goal to really experience things, I have joined an online challenge to read 52 books in 52 weeks. I will not just know about these books and their authors; I will actually have read them! In getting back into reading for fun, I will be reading a lot of mysteries. I recently asked on Facebook for suggestions and I made a list and brought a stack of books home from the library.
I’m also going to make this the year I learn to knit. Okay, that’s not really an outside activity, but it is a creative one and creativity scares me. It’s really all about being able to relax and enjoy.
I grew up with a notion that life was really all about being good and being safe and secure. This paradigm has prevented me from enjoying life and made me a rather dull person. I’d like to be very different by the end of this year. Why should the bad guys get to have all the fun, anyhow! And I know one little boy that will be happy to have a mother that really enjoys life.
Feel free to send any suggestions my way.