Most people would say that I read obsessively. I read blogs, I read e-books, I read paperbacks, I read hardbacks, I read magazines, I read journals.
I read because I love it, but I also read to survive. When I spend much time without in-depth reading (by which I mean reading a book), my quality of life seriously suffers because I grow inward like an ingrown toenail. I need the mind and heart stretching experience of reading something that expands my world.
It keeps me sane and it reminds me that I am not alone on this journey. Anne Lamott’s quote below is one of the more eloquent statements I’ve ever read about the value of reading and writing.
“Writing and reading decrease our sense of isolation. They deepen and widen and expand our sense of life: they feed the soul. When writers make us shake our heads with the exactness of their prose and their truths, and even make us laugh about ourselves or life, our buoyancy is restored. We are given a shot at dancing with, or at least clapping along with, the absurdity of life, instead of being squashed by it over and over again. It’s like singing on a boat during a terrible storm at sea. You can’t stop the raging storm, but singing can change the hearts and spirits of the people who are together on that ship.” ~Anne Lamott
I just love her metaphor of it being like “singing on a boat during a terrible storm at sea.” Reading for me is absolutely a way of decreasing that sense that I am alone in life’s struggles and that in and of itself is enough to make the struggles bearable. When I add to that the way that reading feeds my soul, it helps to make the struggles conquerable.
I’m finding that writing is much the same way. Even though the only writing of mine that is actually read by others is this blog (which is read by few), there’s something about the process of mining my experience for things to share and processing those experiences through the act of writing that changes me. It forces me to live my own life with greater awareness and depth and gives me the chance to be the one singing on the boat. I may not change anyone else’s world with my writing, but I do change my own.
I’m a better and happier person when I read regularly and deeply. I’m a better and happier person when I write consistently and authentically.
Reading, writing, and yoga: these three are the food my soul needs and the music in life’s storms that enlarge my spirit. These three are where I return again and again to find my center, and they never fail me.
A Note on Comments: A chrysalis is by nature a fragile and vulnerable place to be, so I am committed to keeping this a safe place for me and for my readers. Comments sharing your own journey, even if your experience is different from mine, are always welcome and encouraged. Expressions of support or encouragement are also welcome. Comments that criticize, disparage, correct, or in any way attempt to undermine the validity of another person’s experience or personal insight are not welcome here and will be deleted.