Self realization…

Many years ago, during the more “new age” oriented years of my life, I read a book called The Observer Self.  I can’t remember who wrote it, and it seems to be no longer in print (since I can’t find it online), but I remember it well and the impact that it had on my world view.  That, combined with what I learned about 12-Step program philosophy (particularly the one about creating a fearless moral inventory of oneself), have led me to a life of self-evaluation and have increased my ability to observe others, mostly without judgement.  By the way, the ability to observe is a key skill if you act or perform — that ability provides you with a well of information you can then use to infuse your own performances or to interpret some emotion or action far outside those of your normal experience.  But, I digress.

And so, in keeping with this mode of living and analysis, lately I’ve been thinking a lot about my relationship to reading and studying.  I’m sure its on my mind because right now I have so much to read in relationship to different classes and projects, and I am feeling totally overwhelmed.   When you add the Italian grammar exercises, well, it is just too much.  At least that is what I’ve been thinking.

The past 3 years, you see, I really haven’t done very much reading.  Being at that age when, well, my formerly perfect eyesight is just not what it used to be, I had declined to read very often.  It was no longer fun, so I stopped.  Only within the last 6 months did it begin to dawn upon me that I had stopped because it had become difficult.

And then the excuses began.  I didn’t have the right glasses.  There wasn’t enough light.  I didn’t have a chair to read in (and I have never been able to read in bed).  The list went on and on, and, as of December 2010, all of those obstacles

One of my favorite paintings, Fragonard's "The Reader"

had been surmounted.  It was time to tackle the huge stack of books on my desk.  And now, there were going to be deadlines.

All of this is a long prelude to say, today I had an epiphany.   Yes, reading did get a little more difficult for me, I am, after all, no longer 20.  But I only received true understanding when, after posting my apprehension about completing my reading assignments on Facebook, a younger friend (who I met during one of my more recent returns to the academic world) said most logically “Skim for content — you’ll get it.”

Here is the problem — I’m no longer willing to skim.  Maybe it is the change in subject matter, maybe it really is the change in maturity.  I’m no longer willing to skim.  I wasn’t even willing to read “just the assignment” (an assignment that started in the middle of the book) — I had to start at the beginning. 

It is, to me, an interesting change.    We will see where it takes me.  Good thing there was a snowstorm, because I have a lot of reading to do.

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