I have been procrastinating on this blog post.
Seriously. I procrastinate on EVERYTHING.
I have been pondering over my busyness, day-to-day life choices, and the things I’ve been doing as of 2014, and it’s all very inconclusive. I am much happier than I was in 2013, (likely because I’m in a theatre production wherein I have more than one real friend), and I am busy and the extravert in me is totally pleased with life right now. Also, being completely, 100% done with college applications helps to boost the mood. I have interesting classes with awesome teachers, and I’m learning, and you guys, I really love learning. But, as of late, I’ve found myself saying one phrase over and over again that kind of disturbs me.
“I haven’t had time to read.”
Some of you non-readers *judgmental stare* may think that’s not really a big deal, and to some people, it isn’t. But it kind of is for me, when I think about my education and how I got to the point I am at today.
I don’t remember learning to read, so we’re not going back that far, but for me when I was in elementary school, reading was EVERYTHING. Reading levels were a joke, first of all. I read what I could get my hands on, plain and simple. When I was homeschooled first through third grade, I could get my easy-peasy work done in a jiffy and get to reading – or, more often than not, rereading – books. Series, picture books, funny books, books that made no sense (Sideways Stories from Wayside School, anyone?) fantasy, realistic fiction, old books, new books. I used to read while I ate (and I have the soup stains on pages to prove it), go to the bathroom with the intention of taking a shower but end up reading there for two hours instead, and read at night by the light of the crack in the door when it was past my bedtime.
Books are amazing. They transport you to other worlds and show you how to relate, how to feel, how to imagine. How to dream bigger than what the world offers. (Very good for the spiritual life, children’s books.) Sometimes I think that my friend Anna and I have such great desires for an adventurous life because we both read excellent fiction when we were growing up. (But that’s another blog post.)
And, it’s not like there’s a shortage of books to read now that I’ve gotten older and my reading comprehension has expanded. There’s more to read. So many interesting things to be learned. I want to read C. S. Lewis and Malcolm Gladwell’s work and relate to their brilliant thinking. I want to read the photography books I got for Christmas to improve my own snapping skills before I embark on the five (FIVE) senior picture assignments I’m taking on this spring. I want to get through Lord of the Rings, and I want to fall in love with it, gosh darn it.
And, I have all of these wonderful options presented to me tonight, a night when it’s okay to put off some schoolwork until tomorrow and just relax, and I CAN’T DO IT.
I love to read. I love to write because I love to read. I can write because I love to read. Writers were always readers first. Why can’t I read at this perfect opportunity?
I am living divided.
When you’re a junior/senior in high school, school kind of becomes the main focus, or at least it did for me. (I can hear my parents in the back of my mind saying, “School should have been the main focus before then!”) As much as I adore music, art, and free writing (such as this), if it isn’t school-related or involvement-related, it kind of has to go on the back burner at this age. I’m sure you peers of mine can relate to knowing the stark difference between things you want to do and things you have to do.
And the things you want to do aren’t the things we do in our down time, which is sad. We need a relaxant – and we have one – but it’s Facebook and Tumblr and Pinterest. And sure, I guess they’re great for wishful thinking (Pinterest) and making your life look better than it is (Facebook), and wallowing in your teen angst (Tumblr). But, you guys, what is the cry of your SOUL? (NOT TUMBLR, I CAN TELL YOU THAT.)
I want to go outside and take pictures. I want to hop on the sewing machine and alter that too-big dress. I want to get my Etsy store started up (gosh it’s been sitting there unopened for a year now. *sigh*). I want to make art, just for the purpose of making art. I want to record covers of my favorite songs.
And I am fully capable of doing all these things, and I have the time to because I’m homeschooled. Actually, public-schooled friends, I bet you actually have the time to as well, but you’ve purchased the lie of being too busy for anything. I feel you. I have done so too.
I have figured out my behavior as of right now: I cannot do anything unless it 1) has a (near) deadline, 2) is multitask-able, or 3) is a procrastination effort.
This is why I can spend hours on Facebook, but can’t pick up a novel to read. This is why I like to have some Netflix something on while I do my homework. This is why I can crank out awesome artwork for my friends’ birthday presents, but can’t make art prints to sell on Etsy. This is why writing a novel is so dang hard.
Ironically, the only time I do read now is during breakfast – the 15-or-so minutes I have in the morning with Cheerios and tea before I go get dressed and start the day. My breakfast reading for the past few weeks has been a book I’ve had a long time: The Life You’ve Always Wanted, by John Ortberg. One chapter, one that I felt especially convicted reading, was titled “An Unhurried Life.” When he wrote of examples that he had been impatient and others around him had been overly busy and hurried, it struck a chord with me – I love being busy, but it has some nasty side effects. I get really impatient with cars, trucks, and even stoplights when I’m commuting to school or rehearsal. I tend to not invest in the people around me, but rather steer the conversation so I can share my newfound opinions on something. Gratitude and wonder and awe of God’s creation are much harder to come by.
I sort of think that busyness – the glorification of it – draws people further from God. And I know that when I’m away from God, life is at once overwhelming and underwhelming; there’s too much for me to do and not enough for me to be joyful about.
John Ortberg says in his book:
“It is because it kills love that hurry is the great enemy of spiritual life. Hurry lies behind much of the anger and frustration of modern life. Hurry prevents us from receiving love from the Father or giving it to His children. That’s why Jesus never hurried. If we are to follow Jesus, we must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from our lives – because, by definition, we can’t move faster than the one we are following.“
Huh. Jesus never did hurry. He had a job as a carpenter, but you never read about Jesus hurrying along the blind man so he could get back to work. No, Jesus stopped and put mud and healing hands over the man’s eyes so he could see again, even though the man was probably ugly and hopeless-looking. If he drove (if he had vision), he would probably be That Slow Guy on the Parkway.
So, I charge you: Whether you’re God-believing or not, slow down and start living undivided. Live life without being preoccupied. Kill the multitask. Stop glorifying busy. My dad says that sometimes he has to remind himself, “Just brush your teeth.” Don’t go wandering around the house, don’t listen to your iPod, don’t micro-analyze your appearance in the mirror. Just brush your teeth.
Tonight, just brush your teeth, and tomorrow start on that thing you keep saying you don’t have time for. Start that really interesting book, even if you only read a chapter. Sketch out your drawing idea. Write that song – and record it. Maybe, little by little, we can get back to doing the things we love as well as the things we must do – maybe they can, in fact, coexist happily in our 24-hour timeframes.