I woke up this morning, unaware in any active way of Daylight Savings Time, and my first thought was “Yes! I can get back to my book!”
This is a rather thrilling development – as thrilling as any the book itself contains. Since last night I’ve read 200 pages and have pried myself away to do a few things I need to do. Eating, laundry, exercise, otherwise I am tempted to say, they will not get done until I finish.
And as I am reading, I am stopping to google the definitions of words I don’t recognize. Perhaps I knew atavistic once, but coming across it now and relearning its meaning: “being related to something ancient or ancestral” puts butterflies in my belly. It feels like being handed a weapon that can fire further with greater accuracy than the clumsy, scattershot “old.” It is, in many ways, building up your arsenal. It is gathering your power to you, able to unleash such words as macadam or lateen at a clip.
I used to, in college, pin up notecards to my dorm room wall of words that were new to me. Words I found that little flutter of discovery when I scanned my eyes over them.
Since then, with all of this anxiety and worry that I’ve nurtured and claimed, one idea that’s silverfished its way into the book of my brain is that I don’t have the hunger anymore. I don’t have the focus, the skill, the desire to engage with the written world. Really, what this is about is being afraid I can’t get to the quiet, restorative, contemplative peace that was my domain as a child. The girl who wandered about the gardens telling stories, who was constantly checking books out of the library to live in, who feasted on the possibilities she could invent and knit together in her own mind. It was scary to speculate that maybe I am locked out of something beautiful and personal about myself. Like so many things, I imagined that I don’t have to feel the shame of that being true if I never rattle the door handle and see. It’s Schrodinger’s Self-Awareness.
And partially, I understand, I needed to get out of that place so that I could figure out how to be in a social, person-focused job. How I had to give up that extensive private time reading so I could hang out online with friends and clue into pop culture, so I could consider being a grown-up. I needed to get some other skills. I also had to learn to scan rather than read to get through college and reading I really didn’t want to do.
It wasn’t the same when I came back to a book, hoping to lay there and spend a weekend in another world. So much anxiety that I couldn’t focus for even five minutes, so much to do, so much I should be dealing with but couldn’t because all I wanted to do was lay somewhere and read. But it didn’t mean I was broken. Not permanently.
I just needed the right book and the realization that I don’t have to worry about reading perfectly, with a cape around me, the rain at the window, the sea foaming around my tower. I just have to let it be as it is and the book will reach me if it wants me.
This one truly has.