It’s not too uncommon to read blog after blog, listen to educators, lecturers and so-called experts in this field or another, and consume mountains of “research”. ‘Research suggests’ and ‘in a recent study… research allows us to…’ but the thing that truly matters when investigating the benefits of learning is one’s ability to love.
Books offer so much without ever asking anything in return. For its words act as a path into the unknown, its pages as a gateway to new pictures, words and sounds, all willingly being offered for your very own acquisition and regurgitation. The themes and messages seek relatability and its plot lines mesmerise our very idea of reality. When we learn to read, great things happen- “research” will tell us this; the vocabulary strengthens, the brain activates neural pathways stimulating both creativity and a worldly comprehension, so that we can better operate and navigate this complicated planet. “Research” suggests reading entices independent thought and prompts a heightened social skillset. It also concludes that from reading, one can access information in a way that imparts knowledge, hence leading us to a certain social status and bring about a scholarly opportunity into the future. This is all perceived as superior in some subconscious hierarchy, but why?
There is, however, an overarching all-conquering skill we gain from reading which we often take for granted, and inherently think comes naturally: the ability to love. “Research” suggests… well actually it doesn’t, but we know it happens. In every sense of the experience of reading.
Reading should be seen as a fun and enjoyable experience. It promotes story-telling at its finest. And storytelling, as part of our make-up, has enlightened love through the ages. Heck, you don’t even need the ability to read to tell a great yarn and people have been idolising story tellers since before books were even invented. But why does reading offer us such an authentic chance to love? Let’s indulge.
Firstly, reading is best done when with someone else. This experience alone can form the best basis of love and all of its might. Whilst the rest of the world indulges in self-obsessed whitewash, we listen intently to another; we watch for cues in a mood, tempo, and drama with adoration and best yet, we soak in all that is within a book through the eyes of another. We subconsciously learn to do all of these things filled with love. Together you learn to love the reading experience and overwhelmingly learn to love. Full stop.
Next, we unknowingly fall for our characters. There’s nothing quite like that unattainable protagonist within the pages of a book. We love their mannerism, their look and their confidence. We know they are not necessarily real but we tumble head over heels nevertheless. Without ever leaving the safety of this bubble in which we read, a never-ending addiction takes its course. Characters of every walk of life on earth (and beyond) are depicted right before our very eyes. Even the ones we hate, we love. For these special characters offer us a chance to forgive and understand that no two people are truly the same. We learn pain, resilience and triumph. We become a better person through the love of books. Then, as the book slams to a halt, our hearts shatter in need for more.
Lastly, books hide away values and life messages, sometimes innately. ‘Big deal’, you may think. The deal is; reading evokes emotion of all kinds; it makes our heart race when we least expect it and some may even relate to crying from the thoughts that a book’s tale instills in our imagination. Through these messages, we draw out the deepest of raw emotion and thus, learn to love a paperback’s content. Kudos to reading, how special!
So, what are you waiting for, get out and pick up a book? For the love of reading!
Often, we are asked to have 'a good hard look in the mirror' and think about what we see. Quite naturally, most will reel off the flaws in our physical appearance, others may observe the positive quirks we all own and some may even cringe at the way they feel within. Hence, the saying and its action foresees an incumbent chore which many completely avoid, at all costs. Then the New Year rolls around and the hot topic springs to the forefront of everyone’s thinking; "resolutions". Look at who and what you are and think about, then act on what you may need to change in the ensuing twelve months. But this year, I’ve got something better for you to do, simply reflect.
Although the words, ‘charitable’ and ‘humble’ come to mind when thinking about my strengths, a small void starts to open when I turn the tables to the thought of what may be my weaknesses be. I start by regurgitating what others have indulged, “you care too much”. Lame. “You’re too hard on yourself”. Obvious and overused. Then I really think about it.
They start to pile in, like the letter latch, then all regions (chimney and all) of Harry Potter’s house when his uncle persists on ignoring the young wizard’s invitations to Hogwarts. Irrational, moody, awkward and so on. I can’t get a break as some sort of inner self enrols in ‘Self Loathing College” with classes commencing immediately! So, my advice when doing this (because you are all going to do this right away) is choose three. No resolutions; no fad diet or get rich quick plot or pyramid scheme happening here, just three easy things to work on in the upcoming 365 days. So, choose wisely.
Firstly, my biggest need for improvement would be my judgmental sentiments. I cannot help it; nothing seems to work properly, no-one fills my needs and nobody ever seems to get things right! This includes me. The reason I am so critical on most things outside my own box is because, within that same little box, judgement lives, festering away. I fear what I do every day as if it’s the worst thing to do. And even when something amazing happens, I yearn for more and rethink a new and better way in which the initial deed should have been fulfilled. I just cannot win, so good luck to anyone else! To Dearest Me, be less judgmental!
Secondly, speak nicely. I am aware of it but like an ant to a sugar mound, with each sentence, I cannot resist. I swear like an Irish sailor! And it does my head in. On the very first day of 2018, I made a pact with myself; do not swear! Or else! “But you’re a teacher”, you may be thinking. I know, right. Soon the day will come when I slip one out. Trust me, the consequences would be even worse than the time Granny left a rotten rendition of Advance Australia Fair through her bum trumpet as I laying across her lap. I caught myself out once around lunch and thought of the creation of a swear jar – a great way to save money for the next big chapter in the life of me! No this isn’t going to work, I’ll end up just filling a jar up and pissing (I mean, throwing) it down the drain. As dinner and a game of cricket rolled round, my tally had topped around fifteen potty words – this was when I was consciously trying not to swear, imagine when I got to footy training or even worse, lost my temper! Nevertheless, I will try mightily to curb this naughty habit. To dearest Me, stop swearing!
Although there were several honourable mentions in this list, three is the magic number. Drum roll please… negativity! Maybe it’s my hectic lifestyle and inability to sleep (even now, I’m writing this instead of sleeping like the others in this holiday shack) or perhaps my number one flaw? It could even just be I am a pessimist! Nope, the opposite actually. Whatever the cause, I need to be more positive about things in everyday life. Most of us do. As the metaphoric title coincidently adopts, this is certainly my achilles heel, and I must add, my footballing injury which has been disrupting my true passion, playing the great game, is; yep, you guessed it, my achilles! I wonder if I succeed with these remedies to a happy and fruitful 2018, my injury will subside? Only time will tell. To dearest Me, be positive!
Anyway, what are you waiting for, start brainstorming (but not too hard, you may bring out your inner demon) all your flaws and pick three you are going to change this year. It’s far better than setting unrealistic and ridiculously boring goals for the eighth year straight. Just be the person you have always wanted to be and rid yourself of those nasty bad points your personality relentlessly tries to swat. There you have it, that feels good. Honesty helps. Is that a strength or a flaw? Too much storming for this brain… Happy New Year!