"All of humanity's problems stem from man's inability to sit quietly in a room alone." – Blaise Pascal, Pensées
He should have added "without a book"
I read all the time. Real books, e-books, even audio books. There is rarely a moment when I am not cramming new ideas into my head.
But it occurred to me recently that my appetite for reading is partly a diversionary tactic, a way of avoiding being present. I have prided myself on not "wasting time" distracting myself with television, or even reading fiction, but the incessant barrage of ideas is its own form of distraction. It brings its own pressure and becomes a higher order of noise.
The search for novelty, for the one big idea that will make everything better, the escape from the present into an idealised future, these are things to be guarded against.
I have begun practising putting my books down occasionally. This feels like a good thing.
4 thoughts on “Words, words, words.”
Oh, how I can relate to this, Euan! This is one of the reasons I go out for walks alone, without my phone…
It is increasingly important I feel. People need to get better at self regulating with their use of technology.
I think we all have our own escapes. I have two: running, where my mind just goes to a completely different place entirely and music.
Sitting at a piano, trying to force your eyes, brain and hands to relay the pattern on a sheet of paper to a pattern on a piano keyboard or guitar takes complete and unparalleled levels of concentration.
When you have the attention span of a gnat – as I do – these things force me to think differently and probably keep me sane.
So don’t beat yourself up too much for the odd spot of ‘me time’.
It’s why I love the mountains so much.