Home > Uncategorized > Off to the library

Off to the library

Like lots of other folks, I’ve become, gradually and almost imperceptibly, a degenerate Netflix/whateverelseyoustream junkie. I can easily blow a six hour hole in my day, slumped in sweat pants and surrounded by carbs, binge watching the latest can’t-miss offering. I’m also one of those pains in the ass always asking for recommendations….and giving mine even when it’s not really asked for (British cop shows……in case you’re wondering. Broadchurch and Happy Valley).

netflixwatchingstillBut you know what happens. One episode turns into two and then you start the “well….just one more” phase of the evening, and before you know it you’re asking yourself (and Netflix is pathetically asking you..) if you should start the next season or just call it a night and before the sun rises. It’s slothful and an intellectually lazy way to stimulate what’s left of our brains, but it’s become the new normal. And it’s kinda weird how all of us are so incredibly busy and can’t find the time to do so many things (like exercise or get to the store or the bank etc…)….but can easily block off the time to watch both seasons of that creepy show You in a single marathon.

(that stupid creepy show is the new “Who’s on First”…..I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard this….

“I’m watching you”

“Um…ok but why?”

“It’s a good show.”

“Oh, I thought you meant you were watching me.”

“No, I’m watching you. Why would I be watching you?”

“Wait…what?”)

I’m reminded of this because I have always been an inveterate reader. Over the years I’ve accumulated my own library of over 1000 titles. At the height of my powers, I was plowing through two or more books a week. I’d read nightly for a few hours before bed. I’d read during my lunch hour at work. I’d read in the car while waiting for my kids to get out of school. I’d have different books started in different rooms. Novels and memoirs and history tomes. When traveling my bag was always the heaviest because of the books crammed inside it. And when coming home it was even heavier because I could never go anywhere without buying more.

(I tried the Kindle……and it worked just fine……but I turned out to be one of those irritating weirdos who needs the feel of an actual book in my hands, and the device now sits in a drawer with all the cords that don’t fit any device anymore. It will never be a.used or b. thrown away. Because…..well…..you get it. And yes I’ve since bought used copies of many of the books that I downloaded to the Kindle….because I’m so well-read and….er…..smart…)

At the close of 2019, I realized that over the past year I hardly read at all. I was busy Netflixing. As a direct result of not reading, I wrote less than I had in years. Writers read. They adore words. When they’re not encased in them, they don’t write. There’s a vast difference between conjuring up the images in your head that the prose is describing, and letting somebody else do that for you on the small screen. That isn’t to say that some of the stuff I’ve seen over the last year hasn’t been pretty powerful, but that the heavy lifting was done for me, which means I didn’t learn all that much.

So all this much change.

It should probably change starting today, since last night I re-watched 3 Sopranos episodes (until 1am) from season two while surrounded by the 3 books I just ordered from Amazon. Clearly a self-pep-talk is in order. But I’ll get there.

My father used to stand over me as a child when I was mindlessly slumped watching TV and announce to the room that “an idle mind is the devil’s workshop”. I ignored him then but he probably had a point, as only something like demonic possession could explain some of my subsequent choices in my earlier years (He seemed to get smarter as I grew older). Nothing irritated him more than to waste time, and nothing makes time-wasting easier than a television.

In retrospect, I never did anything remotely worthwhile in my life until I started heavy reading. It awoke me from an intellectual slumber, which is another way of saying you can either read or remain stupid forever.

I’m off to the library. Don’t wait up.

In a bit..

–tf

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