Thinking Is the Enemy

During the move, and the time leading up to it and after, I spent a lot of time doing things I didn’t want to do. That’s okay; sometimes we must. But in order to accomplish those grave daily responsibilities we must give up something that truly matters to us, at least in the short term.

For me I cut a little bit of time out of everything I do and a whole lot of time out of reading books. The reading of books suffered the most.

I do a lot of reading, and not just books. I get daily news sources delivered to my e-mails, I get suggested articles from Facebook and – and from friends – and I have a sitting inventory saved in my “pocket” for “later.” I try to read other blogs to see what interests me about them that I might incorporate in my own blog. I also read other blogs to see what does not thrill me, so that I can avoid the purgatory of monotony. I hope I do that. I hope you let me know if I don’t.

But books.

I can’t say I’ve ever been an avid book reader. I never read a book in high school. Seriously. My career in reading started some time in my twenties and consisted almost entirely for the next decade of science fiction or Anne Rice. I probably read more books in my twenties than I have read since. Some time in my early thirties I stopped reading fiction, at all, just because it didn’t thrill me anymore.

I’m a plodding reader, who has tried his hand a million times at speed reading. I assimilate information pretty quickly, so that’s not the problem. The problem is one of focus. I think quicker than I read so often I’ll be a page and half into the meat of something really invigorating but I haven’t actually read a word. I was a million miles away, thinking of some game adventure, or about finances, or what I’m going to grill for dinner or the next book I’m going to read after this one. My reverie is usually broken by some incredible line in a book that makes me go back and find out how we got there. So I’m a slow reader, because I have to read so much of it twice.


I would say I finish about 20 books a year. Some years less, some years more. I will read 1/3 of a book a lot and then put it away and never finish. I think by a 1/3 of the way through a book if it hasn’t captured you it’s wasting your time. Sometimes I’ll read 5-10 pages and already decide.

I’ve tried listening to books but I have the same problem. My mind wanders. Call it attention deficit disorder if you must, or call it an active mind. I call it a scattered brain. My scattered brain has probably robbed me of more accomplishments than any other factor has. Focus is so important to setting and keeping goals. It’s practically mandatory. I lack it.

What was I saying?

Oh yes, books. This entry started with a desire to tell you a few words about a short book I started this week, now that I have time to read again, and how interesting it is only 16% of the way into it. I was even going to quote a pretty cool phrase – “ego is stolen; confidence is earned” – in describing my thoughts about it. But I got derailed.

You’re probably used to that by now.

Next time I boot up I’ll probably have something entirely different on my mind so I doubt I’ll get around to telling you about Ryan Holiday’s “Ego Is the Enemy” but, so far, it’s a pretty good book. He also wrote “The Obstacle Is the Way” a couple of years back and I’ve read it, too. Cover to cover. If I finished it, it must be good.

If you finished this, you probably have better focus than I. Thanks for doing that, it means the world to me. Now go read something substantive, you’ve earned it. If you’re inclined, post below what you read immediately after this and I’ll go read it, too. I promise. I might not finish it and, in fact, I might not actually digest the words I’m reading, but I do promise to check it out.

After all, now that I have more free time than I have boxes, I have a whole scattered brain to fill. 😉

5 comments on Thinking Is the Enemy

  1. I bought you a piece of fiction for your birthday. I have yet to give it to you, even though I have seen you several times since. It’s one of my all time favorite books. I don’t know if you’ll like it, but I think you will appreciate why I like it and why I’m passing it along to you. Happy reading brother.

    1. The last two bits of fiction I read were gifts from a friend, about a year and a half ago. I loved them. Maybe the only fiction I can enjoy now are those selected for me by others… I look forward to opening my gift and I make you this promise … I will read every word!

  2. Ahh…Anne Rice fan. There are a few books I lost in Katrina that are irreplaceable. I had every book by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman…autographed…and I had a first edition copy of Lasher with a special note from Anne who came to see a play I was in that her son also performed. That one probably hurt the most. But still…they were just things and not “breathables”.

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