Prior to starting this project, I frequently heard myself telling people that although I loved reading, I never had time to read. Unfortunate right? What a sad situation—a true book lover torn from her beloved novels all because of a busy work/life schedule. Strangely enough, this ultra-busy-never-finding-time-to-read book addict somehow managed to squeeze enough hours out of her day to marathon episodes of “Shahs of Sunset,” followed by “Top Chef,” followed by whatever else was on. And even when I’d watch these shows, I would also be feverishly surfing the Internet. Flying between Facebook, and Reddit, and back to Facebook, I’d see hours of my free time get completely consumed by an onslaught of information—none of which I was actually absorbing. Did I mention I’d also be playing with my phone throughout this entire scenario? Come time for me to buckle down and finally try to read, I couldn’t. My own attention span wouldn’t let me.
I had become accustomed to allowing my brain to switch from one thing to the next and lost my ability to focus on one thing at a time. Actually, I felt as though I gave myself ADD. Because ADD runs in my family, I thought maybe it was possible for me to have had it all these years, lying dormant, and that I triggered it by training my brain to become overactive. But luckily, such was not the case.
I realized that when I turned off the TV, closed my computer, and moved my phone to another room, I had the capability to read again. But it didn’t happen overnight and in all honesty, it did take a little getting used to. While reading, I would catch myself wondering was that a text I heard? Did someone write me an email? Is Project Runway on? But with time, that stopped. I relearned how to focus my attention on the story in front of me, and allowed myself to become absorbed by the imagery of the book.
At the end of the day, I didn’t read because I didn’t have time, but because it required effort and attention. It was like I was choosing to only eat McDonalds, when I had a 5 star meal for me just waiting in the wings. Although the McDonalds was easy, it was never filling. I never remembered what I just consumed. But when I took the time to focus on and enjoy the 5 star meal, I would remember it for years to come. That’s reading for me. It’s the 5 star meal. And although it requires a bit more energy and effort, it is easily worth each and every drop of attention I can give it.
Our world is filled with amazing stories. All it takes for the big payoff is a little bit of focus.