As a younger man I enjoyed reading… A lot…. One could reasonably find me with at least 1 book at any given time. I enjoyed fantasy and science fiction, I loved biographical literature and histories. I read probably an average of 1 book a week through high school. Between my 19th and 20th birthdays, I’d read the whole of the bible twice, not to mention the other Standard Works of my Church upward of 4 or 5 times each, as well as a myriad of religious texts both of my faith and other faiths (given to me while I knocked doors to preach).
…Then the cluster headaches really took hold. They had started somewhere in the summer between my 19th and 20th birthdays. By my 20th birthdays I was spending 1 out of 10 days in the fetal position. I started to struggle to read, though over the next year I still read a lot, but with less vigor.
As the years have passed, I’ve read less and less, to the point that I have not read a book in several years (I broke that pattern last week, but that’s not the point).
I’ve only recently realized that I stopped reading because the concentration triggered headaches, that and my time to read was greatly diminished with my work schedule.
The other day, my Bishop expressed concern about my activities (or lack there of) to keep my mind active. I was at a loss: what do I do to keep my mind active? What exercise does my mind get? I couldn’t really answer him, and that concerned me: I haven’t read in years. I’ll occasionally find myself in a religious or political debate with random strangers on the internet… I play mindless hours of computer games (the distraction keeps me from focusing on the pain)… And I, what? Nothing? Have I really become so mentally atrophied?
So I’ve determined to enumerate the things I do to keep my mind active, if for no other reason than to prove or disprove the hypothesis that I’ve become mentally defunct. Here I go:
Harry Potter and other audiobooks: a couple of years ago I purchased an Audible account and have listened to at least 1 book a month since then. Sadly, for budgetary reasons, I’ve had to temporarily suspend my account, but I’ve happily maintained my small library. I’ve enjoyed fictional works including the Song of Ice and Fire series and the masterfully performed Harry Potter series (go with the British version, you’ll thank me). But, like my younger years, the greater part of my library is non-fiction. I won’t put you to sleep with the titles.
Doc and Skip and the daily podcasts: again, I won’t bore you with the list of 4 or 5 daily podcasts I listen to, nor the 4 or 5 weekly podcasts. Needless to say I have something playing nearly non stop. I’ll detail the reasons for that in another post (learning new terms, yay!).
Merry Christmas (…in June?): much to the chagrin of my loving and patient wife, I listen to Christmas music as soon as it starts cooling off (you know, once the sun goes down, it’s “cooling off,” right?)…. Maybe a bit earlier than that. I generally only do so with headphones until after Halloween… But… Okay, maybe I don’t really stop listening to Christmas music… The funny thing is, I get downright hostile towards most “Christmas” music (look for the aforementioned upcoming post) and am therefore generally assumed to be a grinch. But the holy Christmas music brings me peace and calms my nerves… which is a big deal… to me.
Three. (Sighs meaningfully) I got to three. My toddler counts higher than three. I guess I’ve found sufficient evidence to corroborate my hypothesis. (Sighs meaningfully) I guess I’ve got some work to do.
So I picked up a book at the library today: Hebrew in Three Months. I’ll admit to being fully intimidated; can an ignoramus college dropout teach himself Hebrew? Probably not, but exercise requires some strain, right? Maybe I’ll be remembered by my children as the almost scholar who could tell you information on any subject (but could rarely be trusted to be accurate), but if I don’t try, I’m not exercising.