Reading is a modern superpower

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Through the blogosphere I`ve met many talented and wonderful people. James is one of them. He writes, makes music and has the valuable asset of having a high EQ. I`m glad I was lucky enough to find his blog, and want to share one of his posts in appreciation. It is about reading, something I could write about for hours myself. For me, turning a page in a book, is a journey that takes me to new places that leave me refreshed and happy at the end. Since I´m a trauma therapist, using EMDR  (systematic eye movements) in my toolbox, I also recommend reading since it produces the same eye movements produced with EMDR. It calms us while we also learn something new. Our brain learns most effectively when we enjoy ourselves, and feel good.

Scientific articles about emdr

EMDR as an integrative psychotherapy approach: … – ‎Shapiro – Sitert av 94
EMDR within a phase model of trauma-informed … – ‎Greenwald – Sitert av 19

 

Thank you James, both for writing this and being the man that you are! 

Why: Reading is a Modern Superpower…

It is my contention that:  In the modern world, Reading is no less than a Superpower.

In this post I will explain the thinking behind this, and share 7 reasons why you should consider make reading an integral part of your daily life.

So sit back, strap in, and turn on, dear reader, while I expound upon…

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In this modern world there are more and more calls on our finite and disparate store of attention than ever before.  Our concentration is relentlessly pushed and pulled from one subject to another with ever-increasing alacrity and frequency.  Slowly, in a grind that stretches over days, weeks, months and years, our awareness is continually and repeatedly fractured, resulting in our ability to focus being rendered less and less cohesive.

In this accelerating and perpetually amplified widescreen landscape of information, reading can seem at first glance like an ill-afforded luxury, a chore, or simply a waste of time.  If you are already straining at the outer boundaries of information overload wont reading just push you over the edge?  Why would you actively choose to shove yet more information into a skull-space that already feels like it is a balloon, filled to bursting?

This is a very good and important question.  Here, are 7 answers:

#1 You should read because: It gives you more lives than a bag full of cats.

We only have one life that we are aware of.  But if you read you are granted access to aninfinite amount of experiences, a countless number of lives.  Thru the act of reading one bookyou can absorb and process someones entire journey in one sitting.  Every single lesson, every single mistake, and every single scrap of their hard-won knowledge is offered up to you, for the price of a paperback and a few hours of your time.

#2 You should read because: There are no new problems.

There are only a handful of real human problems.  It just seems like there are more because they can appear in a myriad of forms.  The fact of the matter is: if you have a problem in the present you can be pretty sure that, at some point over the last 3000 years, someone a lot smarter than you has: wrestled with, solved handily, and recorded the solution to said problem in a book which has now been passed thru the Darwinian filter of time and has become readily available for your perusal.

#3 You should read because: It makes you a better writer.

When you read a lot you become better a better writer (and thinker) by osmosis.  It happens automatically.  What’s that?  You don’t consider yourself a writer?  Well, just stop and consider how many times a day you: send an email, type a text, or scrawl a note to someone you love.  Whether you identify as one or not, the fact of the matter is, that: in today’s world everyone is a writer and being able to express yourself in this form with clarity and brevity is no longer simply preferable, it has become essential.

#4 You should read because: It can shortcut evolution.

I have observed that when I study something (a book, a set of ideas, a piece of writing) intensely and in depth, my behaviour invariably changes without any conscious effort on my part.  Why this happens I do not fully know, but the fact remains that it does.  When you commit to studying something deeply, if it is something that you truly desire to learn, the veryact of studying will cause it to become embodied within you.

#5 You should read because: It strengthens the creative faculty of Imagination.

If you watch a film, or a piece of video, absolutely everything is presented to you.  It is all thereon the screen.  You can just sit back and enjoy the ride.  When you read however, you are the one generating: scenes, backdrops, dialogue, and entire worlds.  You are both the creator, and the perceiver of a waking dream.  The faculty that Einstein said was more important than knowledge, the faculty of imagination, is like a muscle and reading is the greatest gym in the world.

#6 And of course: It is a beautiful, boundless, and infinitely pleasurable.

Reading is incredible.  To be fully absorbed in a book or piece of writing is to be somewhere other than this world.  Somewhere outside of time.  It is one of life’s true joys.  From the outside it looks as if nothing is happening.  But inside, inside, you can be transported thru time and space to any place, real or imagined.

You can experience devastating heartbreak, the darkest melancholy, or the deepest and most trenchant rapture.  You can spend time in the filthy trenches of the first world war, choking on the aroma of the dead, or listen to waves as they lap peacefully on the white shores of some faraway beach.  You can witness the whole of life from the perspective of the tiniest insect, or roll ecstatically on the ground while the heavens split open and God herself reaches her blistered arms thru to lay waste to the earth with flame, brimstone, salt and black ash.

All this and more; from a warm armchair; simply thru the act of cracking open a book and reading.

#7  But even after all that, at the end of the day perhaps the most important thing that you gain from reading is: The ability to effortlessly sustain, an unbroken stream of attention. Otherwise known as: the ability to concentrate.  Reading can literally be an antidote to the growing malady that is: our perpetually fractured, anxiety-inducing, and increasingly fragmentary awareness.

Because it is actually not the increasing amounts of information which are causing the sensation of overload; it is the reactive and frenetic bouncing of our attention.  It is the way that the ubiquitous and screaming inputs of modern life condition our minds to hop from place to place with greater and greater speed; like a frog jacked up on amphetamine pills playing hallucinatory lily pad hopscotch whilst on fire.

In this ever vibrating landscape, in this ever accelerating time, and with these increasing and competing demands for our attention, the ability to sustain your concentration in a focused and unbroken stream for any significant duration of time is a rare and beautiful thing.

In fact, some would say that it is somewhat akin to a Superpower.

———-

My name is James Radcliffe.  I am a 100% Listener-Supported Independent Musician and Artist.  If you would like to get my music, It is available now to stream or buy, Here.

DO IT! 😉

——

[ Oh, and one last thing:

A very beautiful and special author friend of mine has written a poem called ‘Eternal Thread’ which was inspired by an ongoing series of conversations between her and I that began on the comment boards (right here on jamesradcliffe.com), and continue to this day.  She has a great talent and I love this piece of her work.

If you are interested, you can experience it, here. ]

Thankyou for reading this.  You are Awesome.  You know it!

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3 thoughts on “Reading is a modern superpower

    ashokbhatia said:
    July 11, 2014 at 11:36

    Dear Nina,

    Good to see this post after such a long time! You have a good way of expressing yourself.

    Incidentally, I happen to be in Asker/Oslo these days! Here is a post you may like:
    http://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2014/07/09/in-the-land-of-the-vikings.

    Regards,
    Ashok Bhatia

      mirrorgirl responded:
      July 12, 2014 at 10:48

      How long will you stay there? I will go to Oslo, but not in a while! would be wonderful to meet you:)

        ashokbhatia said:
        July 12, 2014 at 17:55

        That would be my pleasure! I am around till the 29th of this month; somewhat more tied up after the 23rd, though.

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