Saturday, April 26, 2008

intelligent, promiscuous reading

From: Jean R

"...has anyone reading this ever done that?" you asked in response to an Ask Nicola query. Hello Nicola, well I have done something close. For many months. Over many years. For more than a dozen summers/falls I've been a fire lookout in Arizona and reading is how I passed those hours up assorted flights of steps on several mountain perches. Oh, and I wrote some, and made drawings of sunsets and stars falling, and memorized morning glory. I took my thoughts to bed after walking along elk paths and woke up with things to say before reading each morning. Every day I read and read with natural light and duties, too--smokes spotted, smoke drift reported, tourists educated about the use of fire in the woods--but mostly I enjoyed paid unlimited, promiscuous reading. Aah...

All those years, but I didn't enjoy the intelligence of your weavings, or Kelley Eskridge's, in all those seasons. Now THAT would have been fine company to take to a 360 degree view! Other adventures came up my steps: the travel agent selling me a CHEAP porthole on the QE2 after 9/11, the fellow ranger kissing me out of hibernation and then taking herself away to work in the heart of Antarctica and never really returning...

And now all these intriguing books to read by two good women. Oh thanks for your writing, you two, AND your reading.

Oh, I can't imagine how it must be to have the outdoors and unlimited, unbroken reading time. What a treasure. The only time I've had the leisure to do nothing but read has been during illness or enforced hospital stays. In my early twenties I could occasionally steal an afternoon in the park with a book, but, wow, I am utterly jealous of your experience.

I'm currently in a place where I'm being pulled six different ways: prepare this, sort out that, ponder this other thing, then do a whole new set of stuff the next day, then refine those other things, then practise them, then do a whole new... Ach. And all I want to do is read and then write. It's beginning to make me irritable.

Actually, I think a bit of sunshine would work wonders. The sun takes my frontal cortex, or at least my fret-centres, offline. I smile; my shoulders relax. If the sun came out today I think I'd say, ah, fuck it, delete all my email, and sit outside with a book, a cup of tea, and a legal pad and pen. I'd read, think, sip tea, drift, have ideas, make notes, drift, pick up the book again, zone out; come to, an hour later, refreshed.

Being on a big boat does that, too. I tend to sleep about ten hours a night on the ocean. There's no way to avoid being relaxed...

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