I was telling someone today that I’ve gotten very good at typing on my blackberry while driving, and better still at typing on it while walking (generally through airports). I was explaining that what it takes is just the right mix of glancing at the phone while looking where you’re going and ideally avoiding running into large objects (or small ones, for that matter).
I’ve had extensive training in the art of balancing the forward and downward glance while moving forward.
As a kid, I read a lot. No, I mean lot. More than that. Keep going. A little more. Now double it. I would leave the library with stacks of books taller than I was. We always lived in small towns, and they only had so many books. I would read through everything at my age level at the library. And at school. And then I’d be out of books, so I’d start reading what was at the next age level. And the next. I read those Judy Blume books way too early.
I devoured books. Read them every possible moment I could. When my parents said lights out, I would strain my eyes and read by moonlight. I had no idle seconds, only book-reading seconds. Which is how I learned the talents that serve me so well now with my blackberry. Walking between my room and the dining room? Why waste that time, when I could read a book? Walking to the car before school? Book! I spent my entire childhood glancing from my book just long enough to make sure I wasn’t walking off of a cliff.
I generally read a book a day. I didn’t really get the concept of reading just parts of books at any given time. You don’t watch a movie a little at a time every night, right? So why do that with a book? The only drawback to this method of book reading is that good books are over way too fast and you end the night wanting more book, and knowing that there’s no more book to be had.
I read at the dinner table, when everyone else was watching TV, in class when I was waiting for everyone else to finish our assignment. I read at lunch, recess, mornings, evenings, weekends. Just about the only time I didn’t read was when I was in the car. Not for lack of trying, but I just couldn’t get over getting car sick.
I got so used to reading with things going on around me that I won’t even notice if you come up and start talking to me. I get completely sucked into the story and don’t hear or see anything else.
There’s this picture of me that I keep in my paper journal that captures me perfectly. I look at it sometimes when I feel lost and I just don’t know who I am or what I’m doing. In it, I’m maybe nine or ten years old. I’m curled up on the couch with my snoopy stuffed animal that I carried everywhere (and still have). And a book. And I don’t even notice the camera. I look completely at peace.
What’s amazing is that I can tell where the picture was taken. It’s in the travel trailer we lived in after my stepdad decided to once again quit his job. We sold our house and bought this travel trailer with the idea that we would live wherever and not be tied down. In reality, we ended up in a trailer park only a few hours from where we started. In the picture, I’m on the couch that folded out in the bed that my sister and I slept on at night. Some kids complain about not having their own rooms. My sister and I didn’t even have a room during the rambling man years.
My life was anything but peaceful, yet there is this picture, proof that I was, at least while I was reading. I feel the same way when I write. No matter what is going on around me. No matter the complicated thoughts swirling around in my head, I can find a moment of peace in the words.
I look at that picture, and I can feel the peaceful moment. And maybe that’s what I need to remember. Maybe I can’t stop the endless onslaught, the constant barrage. But I can take a moment and find a little peace.