One of my earliest memories is me learning how to read. And not only that, I have a memory of a very distinct urge or need to learn how to read. I believe I was just starting out in kindergarten at the time. With the help of a fellow aspiring scholar – and those awesome bumble bee books – we took care of that in no time, and I’ve never looked back.
Later on in life I wondered what it was that had me so hell-bent on learning how to read. Maybe in a past life or two I was slave who had been killed for learning or attempting to learn how to read. Yes that happened in this country. Like our skills for science, language, and swimming that we brought with us from Africa, reading was verboten and anyone caught teaching and learning and passing along anything that might be used as tools for gaining freedom – well they were literally stamped out.
Whatever the reasons, I’m thankful for my desire for reading, and thankful that in this lifetime I get to indulge myself. I have been transported to countless worlds, been privy to the secret depths of the minds of hundreds of characters and shared in the art and love of language and words with oh so many authors. I could not understand a life that is without books and reading.
So when in the past six months or so, I found myself not swallowing whole stacks of books, not jaunting out to my favorite bookstore haunts, not lovingly revisiting a favorite novel or three, I began a sort of slow motion panic.
This is a woman who budgets for books, and relishes adding to anthologies, swoons in delight to just be amid the shelves and corridors of her favorite eco-friendly used bookstore, who’s relatives know if they don’t do an amazon gift card for the birthday, they might not get a thank you card. This woman who rushes home with her bag full of books and is instantly reading not three minutes past the threshold of her home –
This woman after forcing herself to even go to her favorite bookstore and grab some long-awaited tomes, has been staring at her once-coveted loot for over a month and she hasn’t even lifted one book from out of the bag to read it.
What is wrong with me?
Welcome to Mental Illness. The Gift that just keeps on Giving. Introducing anhedonia. You can read all about it. I can guess that I’ve been suffering from a mild case of that off and on for the past one or two years. In recent months it has gotten more acute. Trust and believe when I tell you I already got enough on my plate without having this newness crop up and become problematic.
So it was with joy and quite a few tears I might add, that I picked up my battered and bruised copy of Ender’s Game a week or so ago, and actually managed to finish it, and enjoy it, and have my brain teased and I got to think about all the things that that sort of book gets you to thinking.
It is with a huge sense of relief that I was able to pick up Michael Crichton’s Micro – one of the books that had been sitting in a bag for MONTHS – crack it open and get into the rollercoaster ride that is the hallmark of the Crichton thriller.
Well not completely back. Normal me would have finished off Ender’s Game in an afternoon, and been already 3/4th’s of the way through Micro – but there is still very much to celebrate.
I’ve had to relearn how to walk, to re-affirm to myself that I will Dance again, I had to acknowledge not only to myself, but to a judge in a legal proceeding that I am impaired, that I am in fact disabled, and deal with the consequences of having this new and strange person that I am become a legal status.
I try to think on the brighter side of things, to see the glass half full, to understand that now I might have more access to the support I need and the help that will allow for me to maybe come to a compromise agreement between my two selves. She, the Diva who Danced through her life and had it all together and could do ANYTHING with she, the broken-winged bird, the dancer who can’t walk, the one with the malfunctioning brain, the voracious reader who can’t bring herself to pick up a book.
So I celebrate the moments when I have to (oh so delicately and with promises of tuna) remove a sleeping feline from the book I’m currently reading. I celebrate the interruptions when the novel in my hands becomes a target for kittycat head boops and proprietary mouth rubs. When the phone rings and startles me out of the world I’m inhabiting and I get to decide to answer it or screen it.
What are you reading?