I tell myself that it’s important to do that. When I was at my deep darkest, it was first reading… not writing… that turned my face to the light again.
As a child, I was reading on my own before the chairs got warm in kindergarten, but like anything an undisciplined child accomplishes too soon, that child takes it for granted, and if left to wander too long on this path, that child loses his way. At least this child did.
As an adult, it turns out, the ones I love the most, read the most. It wasn’t that I set out to reclaim my lost path by finding and loving those who read, it just worked out that way. Like Guy Montag in Fahrenheit 451, maybe readers just found me. To hear of their love of this thing I took for granted from childhood made me curious to know them, and this love that filled them up. Without meaning to, they showed me the empty inside myself. They spoke of reading like a person in love speaks of their special someone, corporeal, as real to them as the touch of another human being. Of a love that fills their soul.
And I needed to fill my soul.
I read now. Remedially. Not because my comprehension or vocabulary is stunted, but because the muscles in my brain that should be running reading marathons are atrophied, like someone waking from a coma, and falling on the way to the bathroom.
I read now. Slowly. Chewing on every word, often aloud, to let the taste and weight of every word satisfy me. I get filled up so easily, and it hurts to take it all inside, so some days it’s all I can do to read a few lines before I have to stop and digest what new thing I just took in. Some days it’s poetry, others, classic fiction. But most days, it’s something I’ve never tasted before, and I chew on it like a baby chews on that first bite of peas or blueberries. Cautiously, curiously, the way someone who lived life without friends makes friends for the first time.
So today, in this hour, I read. Not for others, but for myself.
Because I am empty, and I am so hungry.
© Copyright 2018 William S. Friday