The need to read

Today marks the end of my post Holy Week vacation. I take this week off every year because I’m often not fit for human interaction by the end of Easter Sunday. As I’m not preaching the last two Sundays in April this year I almost decided to power through this week. I’m glad I didn’t.

This year’s post Easter pause has been different because there is a little human on the way. As such, we had a number of tasks to accomplish around the house and this is how I spent the first part of the week. I am not fond of having tasks during a vacation, as it messes with my ability to decompress, but these things needed to be finished and so I threw myself into them without complaint 1. Compounding my stress was the sudden onslaught of allergy season, which turns sound into stress and the presence of people into anxiety. It was a great week to be cooped up in the house with three other humans 2. But then something came to the rescue.

About mid-week I came to the realization I’d not read a novel in over a month, which is never a good sign of where I am in terms of my psychological health. So I determined that I would spend what leisure time I had reading instead of puttering around with video or other distractions.

From Wednesday on I managed to plow through The Southern Reach Trilogy, by Jeff VanderMeer. It was glorious. The books themselves are both fascinating and frustrating, offering little in terms of resolution 3, but I could not put them down. The more I read the more calm I became, and the more energy I had for social interaction 4. Breaks in my concentration also became less jarring, a mercy for which I am quite thankful.

If nothing else, this vacation reminded me how essential reading is to my well-being. And now I’m off to look for a new novel in which to marinate, even as I turn toward my tall pile of non-fiction. For me writing is an introspective act, both good and essential. Reading, on the other hand, is freedom. What a wonderful gift.

About the featured image

This decorative bird cage hangs in front of a house down the street from me. It’s door is welded open, giving the impression that whatever was kept inside escaped to freedom.

Decorative Birdcage against a blue sky.
Panasonic G7 with 14-42mm lens • 35mm • ISO 400 • ƒ/5.6 • 1/4000 sec

  1. And the bathroom looks good that color, so it’s cool. 
  2. The weather was terrible. 
  3. Which is something telegraphed throughout the entire trilogy if you pay attention. 
  4. Perhaps because I was lost the novels and so human interaction became minimal as a matter of consequence. 

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