You know what I love?
I love reading.
I love the feeling of reading a work that transports you, abducts your senses and listless thoughts to another world, with characters and landscapes that fill the theater behind the eye.
Reading is like exercise.
Sometimes it feels nice to go outside, to stretch your legs and jump and hop and run through beautiful fields and forests, meander through trails and hilly passages and breath the blooming air and spacious views from lofty ledges.
Other times it’s nice to set your mind to a place, with a metered plan to take you there.
Whatever the case, this physical exercise of the body, no matter how it’s scheduled or what the anticipation might be, whether we look forward to the exercise or not, it always leaves us feeling better thereafter.
Immediately afterwords, we feel more alive. In the proceeding days, our body is oxygenated, the muscles ache and hunger for nutrients, the body slips into deep restful sleep, and energy seems to abound where lethargy once was.
Reading is the same way, but it’s rare we think so.
I can read the same way I can escape into the streets and run into the fields with no destination in mind, just to gasp the fresh air and extend my legs and uncoil my body in open space. This is liberating, the same way picking up an interesting book is liberating, with no destination in mind. Just the joy of letting the mind run.
But applying myself to a book is equally satisfying, saying this is where I want to go, and when. And focusing on the story or facts or theme until I catch a second wind, and an hour turns to hours and this is repeated until a book is complete, and the marathon of reading is done.
But the most marvelous byproduct of reading, of allowing my mind to engage in text, is the same effect that physical exercise has on my body.
It’s hard to imagine that reading has such an invigorating effect on the mind, but it literally produces a vitality that creates a more fluid imagination, more accessible words, more nimble acuity. After lots of earnest reading, the mind has an energy in the way of thoughts that it didn’t have before. The reservoir of ideas is fuller than ever, ready to spill into any fertile garden of attention and provide the right words and logic to cultivate fruitful ideas.
Reading has a marvelous effect on the mind, but it’s often overlooked as a chore. No time for reading. Just like no time for exercise. But the benefits are life giving.