Tag Archives: reading

Patience key in finding purpose in interpersonal relationships

As a writer and reader, I regularly ponder the phenomenon of literary purpose. When I read, for example, I instinctively pause at least once a page to ask, “Why did [author] choose that [word, diction, metaphor, et cetera]?” My own writing undergoes the same dissection, though on a more scrutinizing, borderline-neurotic level.

Therefore, I read and write at a glacial pace — I’m talking the rate of a snail with a limp here. With the nagging question of purpose forever present (and forever slowing me down) in the literary sphere, I find it seeping into my life beyond the keyboard and page, with like effect.

Lately, I’ve been consumed by the purpose of the relationships in my life. “Everyone you meet will teach you something.” Yeah, yeah, blah, blah, I agree. But there’s a key element missing from that uncomfortably neat little quote: patience.

Now I’ve never been patient. I check the oven every two minutes (or fewer) every time I bake. If I post something I feel is clever and/or funny on social media (let’s be real, it’s probably another old video of Andy Roddick ranting at an umpire or a fruit-themed pun or something equally show-stopping), I check said site every minute or so for a while to see if anyone acknowledged my brilliance.

I hate being patient. As more new people have cycled in (and out) of my life in 2014 than any other year, I’m constantly in pursuit of whatever it is they inevitably taught me. And it’s not enough to simply ponder it; I feel compelled to document and physically represent it. For the purpose of this post, picture a sampler. You know, one of those quaint, stitched wall-hangings that offered wisdom like, “Haste Makes Waste,” during the colonial era.

I need a quote for my hypothetical sampler. (I’m kidding about the embroidery, for the only aisle I can tolerate in a craft store is the one with the oversized dinnerware — I mean, who doesn’t need Bigfoot’s margarita glass?) Hypothetical embroidery aside, the harder I tried to derive and document meaning from my relationships, the more unfulfilled I felt.

In early 2014, I probably would have embroidered something like, “One of the most beautiful qualities of true friendship is to understand and to be understood.” Pensive décor for my wall, of course.

Now, though, I’m trying to let learning happen more naturally; I’m trying not to force it. An updated version of my hypothetical sampler would likely read, “Be patient. Buy that giant gravy boat from Michael’s. And if you follow nothing else on this sampler, leave all future crafting to the innately crafty.”

Return to beloved hobby proves the power of leisure

I recently reacquainted myself with a longtime love: reading for fun.

While I appreciate literature whether reading for homework or leisure, there’s a certain thrill in picking up a memoir with the confidence that no essay prompt or pop quiz awaits. In the fall, I’ll complete my English writing degree with a course dedicated to life writing; I deemed David Sedaris’ memoir Naked the ideal choice for renewing my (complicated) bond with the genre.

Already, unapologetic honesty defines the memoir, and though I have little in common with the author, I find myself clinging to the universality of his bizarre tales — all moored on the page with that trademark Sedaris wit.

Even rambling a quick analysis of Naked reveals leisure’s sneaky power. Though I’m reading for relaxation, I automatically engage the more academic, formulaic part of my mind.

And the whole involuntary rambling thing felt productive. Wait, what?

Too often throughout my college career, I’ve felt guilty after taking an hour or two off to watch a movie or delay my homework for an impromptu ping-pong match. After all, that kind of ‘relaxation’ detracted from my ‘career path’ or whatever other jargon I created for an all-purpose guilt trip.

Since taking up leisure reading again, though, I’ve realized hobbies and interests are neither conniving nor determined to invade my life and steal precious time from work.

Rather, they’re opportunities to engage a different, too often dormant part of me. And maybe, in the uncanny haven of an author’s tale about ‘that one time way back when,’ the career-minded, ‘productive’ part of me might discover something valuable — something far beyond the cubicle.