Sunday, May 18, 2014

The one constant thing is reading

I've been thinking about all the identities I've clung to over the years, which no longer apply. I've been baby sister, shy school kid, English tertiary student, newlywed, mother of toddlers and babies, and currently, mother of teenagers. I know that phase will be transitory too. The empty nest syndrome, which I've heard so much about, will come sweeping through our house all too soon. I know this isn't an original thought, but I can't believe how the years fly. I've been a little sad, to think that I've plowed through each of these identities so quickly, like levels on a computer game. I wasn't intending to hurry, and it makes me wonder if I appreciated each stage to the full while I was in it.

I feel a little ache inside to think each of the old identities is gone, never to return. Trying to grasp them is like trying to snatch a wave in your hands, as it rushes past on the banks of a creek. I wish there was one thing which had stayed constant through it all. (I know there are other aspects, such as being female, Australian, Christian, but to my way of thinking, these are more tied up with what I 'am' rather than what I 'do', so they are a bit different.)

Then I remember, hey, there is one thing. It's the thing which has meant such a lot to me and filled many happy hours. I'm a reader. That has never changed through all those years. As a child, I was known as a bookworm, and I'm still just as avid a reader every chance I can get. If you like visiting reading blogs such as this one, you might well be the same.

In my case, the little girl who'd pore over Little House on the Prairie and Trixie Belden turned into young teen who loved L.M. Montgomery and developed Regency novel fever. She's the same young adult who had Bleak House, Little Dorrit, Middlemarch and Villette lined up to get through within a certain amount of time for English. That person became the young mum who took every chance to read Harry Potter while her young kids were busy. And now, the mother of teens wakes up each morning keen to get a look at the freebies and discount books for e-readers from sites such as Inspired Reads and Pixel of Ink. That's me. They are all me.

Whew, what a relief that something has stayed constant, and what a worthy identity it is to retain. If you are a reader too, you'll know what I mean. It is great fun as well as being beneficial for your mind. I wouldn't expect it to ever change.

But just after coming to that conclusion, I chanced upon an elderly friend in the supermarket who said, "I'd love to read your new book, but I'd better be quick to do it while I can. My eyesight is fading and the doctor said I might not be able to read for much longer. I'm squeezing as much in as possible, but oh boy, after a lifetime, I'm sure going to miss it."

That came as a bit of a blow, just after figuring this out. Even that identity may slide away down the waterfall of life along with all the others I've had to let go. It may well be the hardest to farewell. Please let me keep my eyesight into my senior years. Then I remember that it's the 21st century, so no reader really needs to be faced with the threat of having to relinquish reading. Listening to recorded books would surely be better than nothing, and e-readers are set so that you can make the print very large and very dark.

Here's to reading, and to those of us who remain readers to the end.


  1. Hi Paula - Thanks for your thoughts. I could not agree more about reading. I cannot imagine a world without books and I'm so thankful to my parents who introduced that world into my life. Avid readers themselves, they encouraged my sisters and I from a very young age to read and therefore developed in us a love of books.

    Once my kids left home, although I was still working, I found I could spend a lot more time reading which I enjoyed immensely. At that time I was not writing, had never had the inclination to write, but now as I look back I realise that it was all preparation for God's plan for me to become a writer and more. So while these are some of the constants in our lives, the ability to read and to write I mean, the other seasons come and go and even change a little. In some respects I saw more of my kids after they left home than while they were living there. They played a lot of sports and spent a lot of their time training etc. Then the grandchildren came along. And that is another story entirely.

    Indeed - here's to reading - I am one who will remain an avid reader until the end.

    1. Hi Lesley,
      Yes, you get just what I mean. I love it how reading can bring further, unanticipated benefits down the track. It was similar for me.

      As for that empty nest syndrome, I wouldn't be surprised to find the same thing happening in our family. I'm sure it takes getting away to realise how many good aspects there were to living at home with your parents. Grandparenthood - I'm looking forward to that one but think it'll be a long way away for us, as the kids don't seem at all interested in dating yet :) Still, things can change fast.

  2. Hi Paula - I still have my Trixie Belden books at Mum and Dad's and added all the "Anne" books when I was in my 20s. Though I never did catch Regency fever. I was always a Secret Seven kind of girl and still love mystery/secrets/suspense books today. The story about your elderly friend reminded me of a biography I read of Henrietta Mears, the woman who revolutionised Sunday School materials (by writing materials that were age appropriate) and had an impact on many influential Christian leaders such as Billy Graham and Bill Bright who started Campus Crusade for Christ. When she was in her 20s, her eyesight was deteriorating and she was advised to stop reading to preserve what eyesight she had left. Her response was to read as much as she could before she went blind. She never did go blind, though she had poor eyesight her whole life. I like that attitude. I guess there are a lot of audio books available these days so hopefully your friend will be enjoying books for a long time yet. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Hi Nola,
      I still have my collection of Trixie Belden books too, although 36 of them. Wow, they used to hook us in, didn't they, although they look so dated when you see them now.
      How thankful I am that we live in different times to those of Henrietta Mears, and as you say, we can enjoy our books well into our old age.