Apparently I am not done with my blog post of last week (https://alittleelbowroom.com/2013/10/30/the-ghost-in-my-computer/) in which I lamented personal loss of writing time due to addiction to the internet. For no sooner had I posted it, when I turned around and realized yet another victim: my reading time. And by that I mean books, not comments and articles online.
Anyone who knows me, or knows who I was until recently, knows my home to be my personal library. Literature has long been considered sacred in this house. In graduate school we were required to read a book each week, and following graduation I continued the ritual in earnest for a couple of years. Until just recently, in fact.
The only danger, I had thought, would be the house imploding under the weight of books. Being a bibliophile at a time when so many others are unloading has been a delight second to none.
I read because I felt I must. I’m talking close reading. Carnivorously, with a yellow highlighter in hand like a fork. Because, as all readers know, literature can be so much better than life. And literature makes us better people. Also, as a writer I knew that the very best thing I could be doing, if not writing, was reading.
And that was my life. I missed films to maintain it, became an introvert to maintain it. And whether under the sun, on the sofa before the fireplace, seated a city bus or in a waiting room, I loved my solitary time spent with books. For that matter, I found my tribe by our mutual investment in time spent reading, as well as writing. And the fact that online addiction is infringing on this too….
Well, this is war!
For the past three weeks my husband has been in Napal on a trek in the Himalayas. Living alone and a little lonelier, I turned to the internet like never before. This is when, I think, I got into serious trouble. Or could it be that as he climbed the Himalayas, I realized how much trouble I was in?
Prayer flags there, falling leaves here….
I have kept a thick anthology of poetry at Copper Canyon Press in the back of my car for as long as I’ve owned the car (many years). “Poetry for emergencies,” I called it, should I ever break down and get stranded. Well maybe that moment is now.
“To pay attention, this is our endless and proper work.” Mary Oliver