Why You Can’t Read

Don’t worry, I won’t deviate from the bait I used to lure you. Yes, I was serious about the title. Sure, you can read words and link them together to get the gist of what they mean but that alone doesn’t constitute reading.

People aren’t too fond of reading, and stick to short stories or snippets to pass time by. The ones who do, read to quench their thirst for dopamine. They read and forget, then read some more, and forget them as well.

But one day you came across something that you couldn’t keep your eyes off. You read it, maybe several times over, paying attention to every detail. It felt as though you were conversing with the author, you didn’t just understand his take on the subject, but you also felt its impact.

Ever guessed as to why that was the case? Why did that one article, or book make such an impression on you? Its because it addressed something you were struggling with, or something you could deeply relate with.

It presented you with something familiar, or something you were yearning to achieve, which is why you devoted not just your time, but your entire attention to it. But most of our reading is done to either pass time by, or to muck up for an exam. This impairs your ability to connect with whats been presented in the book.

So Whats it Supposed to Be Like?

Reading is immersive. It involves diving deep into the far reaches of literature and searching for precious pearls. Those pearls are the ideas and insights you receive from devoting your time to it. Its a journey that the author takes you on that makes it so much more enticing, making you come back for more.

Books of science and mathematics aren’t read with the same level of passion one does with their favorite novel. It requires a different approach, and also comes with a number of prerequisites. You have to understand its language and form a base to build your way up. But because of how our educational curricular is designed, most of us barely had the time to dip our toes into the water and are bombarded with advanced levels of math and science, forcing us to take our chances and risk drowning.

Books made for schools contain only that what is considered essential. It becomes difficult to relate with, which is why many of us turn away from them. You don’t find yourself conversing with anyone, you’re told how to find answers, without knowing what those answers are for.

The Road Not Taken

You’re considered smart if you take shortcuts instead of treading along the long route. Shortcuts are good, but they won’t mean anything to you unless you first take the long route. Think about it, mathematics is filled with numerous formulas and equations that encapsulate its core ideas and what are they? They’re shortcuts, but does reading and memorizing it illicit any joy? No. Discovering them does, and you discover those secret routes by taking every step down the long route.

Those discoveries took a lifetime to achieve. We take them for granted because they’re either too abstract to understand, or too simple to illicit any sort of pleasure. Years ago, people believed the Earth was flat and situated at the center of the solar system. And why wouldn’t anyone believe so? From their perspective, the Earth looked flat and felt stationary. Looking up at the night sky was proof enough for them to conclude that it was the heavenly bodies that moved and orbited the Earth.

Reading their interpretations, viewing the world from their lens and contrasting it with what we know now; the journey from ignorance to enlightenment via the vehicle of imagination tempered with science is what illicits awe at the subtle machinery that runs the Cosmos.

But what we do is memorize them, write them down on our answer sheets, plug in the numbers, compute and pray to God that the answers you’ve written are correct or hope that the answer sheets catch fire and everyone gets an A.

Did you know, that if you took the circumferential length of a circle and divide it by its diameter, you’ll end up with the same number no matter how big or small the circle is? Isn’t that crazy? What makes it even crazier is the number you end up with is irrational in nature. Irrational numbers have decimal expansions that never terminate, and no recognizable patterns can be deciphered from it, which is what makes it “irrational”. Thats another mystery to be solved.

Books are a treasure trove of ideas, both big and small. Its your job to collect and cultivate them within the fields of your mind. Tend to it diligently and watch as it blossoms and bear fruits you can feast on. Or show off.

Reading = Time Travel

When you read books, especially those written hundreds of years ago, you are literally reading into the minds of people who lived thousands of years ago. You are having an in depth conversation where you pay complete attention to people who were much more in tune with their nature.

Many of us are drawn towards the idea of self-development, but abstract ideas of personal development fleshed out of its skin and laid out bare won’t be as appealing as seeing it in action. Reading biographies of great men who came before us talk at great lengths about their many personal endeavors peppered with detailed accounts of their hard earned experience. That’s a tasty way of devouring knowledge.

No matter how much you travel, there’s only so much you can gain from a lifetime of exploration. Reading lets you experience situations you never thought were possible, it can offer you a glimpse into other peoples lives, especially the lives of great men and women, providing insight into the mindset they adopted to achieve the heights they did. It can show you what true suffering is and allow you to deepen your empathy.

By the time you hit your 70s, the haze will set in and all you will remember are the highlights of the day. You will forget them as well, once the sun sets in. So make your time worthwhile and invest your time wisely.

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