Reading has been huge for me this year! I'm thrilled, because I struggled for a long time with giving myself permission to read. Curling up with a book often felt like too much of an indulgence. It still does, sometimes, but I've found a few ways to cheat my inner productivity-drill-sergeant and allow myself the indulgence anyway.
- Track books I read on GoodReads. That way, even when I'm snuggled up in my papasan chair with my cat, a mug of tea, and a ratty paperback, I can feel like I'm making progress toward a goal - and I'll have something to show for it at the end.
- Read while "hiking" on the treadmill. In training for the White River 50 this year, I was advised by the wise White River veteran Major Shark to get myself on the treadmill to train my legs for steady, steady climbing. Prior to this, I'd never done anything but run on the treadmill...mile repeats, check; 16-mile runs, check; Yasso 800's, check. But crank it up to a 15% grade and walk briskly for 6 uphill miles? Never before. Lo and behold, it's been great. Not only have I gotten in great shape, I can easily read half a book in one workout.
- Vanpool! James and I got a new vanpool off the ground that runs from Seattle to Kent. (One of these days, I will devote an entire blog entry to the amazing vanpool program in King County.) We share driving duties, but when I'm not driving, it's a great opportunity to read. What better way to start the morning than being immersed in a fabulous novel for half an hour before even checking my email?
- God bless the iPhone. After reading The Shallows a couple years ago and being quite sure I'd never find a place in my heart for ebooks...well, I've gone and done it anyway. Mostly because I can log on to the Seattle Public library's website on my phone and within 30 seconds, download a complete book - for free - onto my phone. Then, best of all, unlike regular books or even a Kindle, it's literally in my pocket all day long, ready to be pulled out and read while I'm waiting in lines, riding the bus, eating lunch, etc. I find all sorts of ways throughout my day to sneak reading a page here, a page there. I love it!
It's just that...young adulthood has a way of making time accelerate, and that acceleration prompts a kind of nostalgia for the languid summers of childhood, swaths of unscheduled, uninterrupted free time to pursue whatever creative pursuits struck your fancy. Then you grow up, and time doesn't come around like that anymore. At some point, the question is no longer the presumptuous 'When shall I do this thing I really want to do?', but rather, an urgent, half-desperate 'Will I ever do this thing I really want to do?'
I believed, at twelve, that I could be a scientist. I believed I could be a writer, an actress, a professor of English in Rome, an acrobat in a purple spangled outfit. Days opened for me like the pulling apart of curtains at a play you've been dying to see. I had a microscope on my desk, shelves full of books and treasures that I found outside: rocks, wood, abandoned nests of hornets and birds, notes to myself for things to do tomorrow because I hadn't had the time today. I believed the way to ride bareback was to get on and go, the rising heat of the horse against your bare legs the only instruction you'd need. The how of everything was simply in the doing of it. - From The Pull of the Moon, by Elizabeth BergI miss having the time to pursue all the how's that pique my interest - to write a novel in my afternoons, to design my own board game for the heck of it, to teach myself to juggle in front of a mirror in my basement with hand towels and plastic bowling pins. I miss the limitless ambitions of the young imagination.
But I also recognize that simply missing free time doesn't make it magically appear. So instead of going around mumbling all the time about how I wished I had more time to read, I'm reading on treadmills and in vans and on my fancy phone. Pardon the pragmatism of growing up in the modern world.
Of course, there are limits to the number of things that you can "make time for", no matter how passionate and committed you may be to them. What I have learned so far, though, is that it's no good to throw your hands up in the air about it all. You can set new priorities, small ones, one by one, and eventually (I'm talking years here) they weasel their way into your daily life and eek out a little bit of room for new ones.
So. Reading, juicing, running, career building, today. Social life, PHP wrangling, banjo playing, new blog launch, book proposal, sleeping, traveling, tomorrow*. Ah life!