An Attachment

There is nothing wrong with learning, or reading and owning books. Yet I recognize in myself an attachment to a delusion that words can end my suffering. Books represent security to me — the idea that if I read enough, learn enough, I can control life. I can create safety. The awareness that I don’t know enough, and that words and ideas will impart wisdom. Sometimes I tell myself I need to purchase a book because I cannot borrow it from the public library even via interlibrary loan (I like to read somewhat uncommon titles). At the root of this story, however, is the reflexive movement toward the familiar role of student. I delay action and avoid discomfort by returning to a role I know so intimately.

In the past I’ve purged books from my shelves. I engage in a little dance with the books that remain, telling myself that some of them I will probably use sometime (they number in hundreds). It’s an interesting experience to look at a book and decide whether it departs, and why. Sometimes I feel like a queen hoarding and counting her gold pieces.

And yet, books have been steady companions in my life.

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3 Comments on “An Attachment”

  1. Chad Says:

    Interestingly, I do not read books anymore. Or listen to music not on a FM radio in a vehicle. I am completely disinterested in these pastimes I enjoyed in my youth, and that I would like to model for my kids. But I just can’t. I do not care what this random person whom I do not know thinks. I do not care how that person feels. I am just no longer moved. I have no idea how I got to this place, and while I am seemingly content here, I don’t think I would recommend it.

    In the past, if I had heard of such symptoms, I would think they were related to depression. But I have suffered from depression, and this feels not at all like that. It’s all very strange.

  2. Kathryn Says:

    I’ve gone through bouts of no reading that last for months. I have trouble, sometimes, balancing my attention. Reading (especially fiction) can be an escape for me, and then I can hardly do anything else. Or at least I have to exert a lot of effort to be disciplined and do adulting. And for some reason, I’m still compelled to read what other people think. Isn’t it interesting, how we use our attention?

    I almost never read an actual book anymore. I use my phone and the library software. I also almost never listen to music except in the car or making art, and I haven’t listened to NPR etc. in years. I stopped when Claire was born and just haven’t picked up the habit again.

  3. Chad Says:

    I could have been erudite if it weren’t for those meddling kids!

    And their dog!