Thursday, January 5, 2012

Now That’s Satisfaction

Simple enjoyment. Why is it so difficult? I am sitting with a book, the whole stretching out before me. No job, the kids with the nanny. This should be the greatest of pleasures for me. But it’s not. I’m distracted. The people in this coffee shop talk among themselves. The music is not bad, but not really good either. Just loud enough to hear but not be truly distracting. Yet I cannot concentrate. It is even difficult to muster the attention to jot these meager notes. I cannot resist the urge to check my email. So I do, and feel bad. No new messages, but another break in my concentration. Maybe Facebook? No, I must stay focused.

The satisfaction I used to get from sitting around and reading a book all day seems harder to attain now that I’m an “adult.” It’s not that I don’t enjoy books as much—I do, I swear—it’s that I find it that much harder to get to a place of calm and quiet that is necessary to really lose myself in a book.

Of course, there is the kind of book that is just so great, it forces me into this place. Two recent example: An Episode in the Life of Landscape Painter, by César Aira, and a collection of poems tentatively titled You’re Going to Miss Me When You’re Bored, by moi. My book engrossed me, obviously, because it is mine, but also because I was on a flight and when I landed I would promptly head to an art space to give a reading, then do two more readings over the next two days. I needed to figure out what to read, and in so doing, wound up rereading the most recent draft of my book and making several changes. But that is a different type of reading. A pleasure, but also work. I digress.

What I want is for reading and writing to be like listening to a song, for it to be a different language I want to be drawn in, get maximum reward for minimum work. All I want to do is listen.

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Anonymous Thomas L. Vaultonburg said...

I have the same difficulty. Fortunately, all my adult life I've read primarily poetry, so I can read a few poems and feel I've accomplished something. But recently I read Cat's Cradle by Vonnegut and managed to do so in three or four sittings.

February 2, 2012 at 6:59 PM  

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