Wednesday, 23 June 2010

I'm busy doing nothing

"Are you ok?" asked Virgil earlier. He cornered me outside the bathroom and put his arms around me. "Are you sad? You just seem a bit aimless today."

I had been lying on the sofa reading a book.

I assured him that I was fine. I had, indeed, been enjoying my book, which is of the self-help variety and not just a novel to be read for pleasure. I have been enjoying this book at various moments for the last month and I would like to finish it. I think it might help me work out what to do with my life.

When did finishing a book become something like hard work? As a child I managed one a day. As the books became longer and I more sociable and responsible for feeding, clothing and housing myself, this dropped to several a week. In the lows of depression in my twenties I read intensively and pathologically. When studying I had less time to read for pleasure, but looked forward to the moments when I could jump into a book.

Now I struggle to finish a book every two months. Now it is such a colossal achievement to finish a book that if I am not enjoying one after a couple of chapters I will abandon it. I would never have finished One Hundred Years Of Solitude with this attitude, or Moby Dick, or... well, many other books that I'm very glad to have read.

And why does Virgil think that reading a book equals lolling around? A few weeks ago during a conversation about the self-discipline required for self-employment he said how good it was to see me busy at my laptop rather than reading.

Virgil doesn't understand. I can spend hours wasting time on the internet while looking industrious, looking at things that are none of my business on Facebook and ignoring important chores while kidding myself that I am working. I have decided to have less internet in my life and more books.

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