Day by day
Slow down and enjoy life’s read
By LIZ THOMPSON
Wednesday June 18, 2014
What page are you on?
I can tell how much I’m enjoying a book when I don’t want it to end. Slowing down only delays the inevitable; the last page, the final word. Next I’ll be searching for the sequel or another book by this author.
Some people struggle to read and find it hard to study and learn; it can be a real problem to overcome.
But I’m also talking about those who can read fine but don’t want the task. They stop and look to see how many pages they have to read, bemoaning the fact they aren’t close to being finished — wasting time being frustrated instead of enjoying the read. The end will come soon enough.
We do that same thing when we check our watch every few minutes or wish our days away, when we spend time worrying or wanting a bad day to end. We’d be better off by making the most of the moment.
Maybe it’s a human condition where we push forward, in essence, to simply get all the pages turned and the book finished.
As a teen, a reading test showed I was a fast reader, yet my comprehension lagged. Reading fast has served me well in some respects, but proved detrimental when typing what I was reading. By reading so fast, I often skipped entire lines. The same proved true when playing the piano while reading the music.
In time, I learned to pace myself for accuracy in typing and playing music. As a result, my comprehension improved and I enjoyed more what I was reading or playing.
Our personal life is a unique book, one I believe is written by God. Not one book, or life, is identical. That’s remarkable. We need to listen and watch thoughtfully as each page is turned, knowing the end will eventually happen.
In May, we were camping in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. On our campsite, we had a screened room but we kept the front open during the day.
A yellow butterfly was darting frantically in this room, seeking an exit. I tried to help it out with my hands and hoped it would alight on my cane when upheld, to no avail. It was almost painful to watch as it hit the top and sides, coming so close to the exit and starting its mad path over again.
Finally, it escaped. We sighed with relief. Two days later it happened again, and I was able to use my hands to ease it to freedom. The flutter of its wings was both a thrill and a warning.
I found my heart rate was up after it flew away, and it reminded me how we sometimes spend a lot of time flying around seeking freedom, often refusing help. We see children acting much like the butterfly until they realize accepting help and guidance is good.
Life lessons are a gift.
I’m reminded of the final page analogy when someone dies and I attend the funeral, memorial service or wake. In April and May, I attended four such events, although in the same time frame six people I knew left this life: three friends, a brother-in-law, a neighbor who was also a friend, and the pastor who performed our wedding ceremony many years ago.
In retrospect, we think of these lives and their legacy.
I believe it’s unhealthy to compare ourselves to others. That would be like saying all the best books, poems and the like have been written. Why should we try to write anything?
I refer to other writers who inspire me; I don’t stop writing, thinking it doesn’t measure up, although I often choose to toss writings or completely rework them.
So with our lives. We spend time reworking ourselves and tossing out the garbage, so to speak. That’s a good choice.
When I attend memorial services, I try not to compare my life to theirs but I take inspiration from them. Those who volunteered — I might support these causes. Those who had great humor — I might catch myself when I grumble. And those who were humble — I’m reminded to check my ego at the door.
The list goes on.
When I fail to do what is good and true, I look to change that, often thinking of those who were positive influences on me.
Life moves fast enough; no need to push ahead. Turn your life pages slowly and enjoy the read.