The deep life

I read a lot, probably too much.

I should read less and do more of the practical things of life, like cleaning the house, getting some exercise and weeding the garden. I know I need practise with practical activities because the other day it took me 30 minutes to take the beeping smoke detector off the ceiling to change its battery and then another 30 minutes to fail to get it back up there. Tears and swear words later, my friend arrived and sorted it immediately – the problem was all to do with a little red tab that had to be tucked under the battery. How is it that some people can see that sort of thing straightaway and I can’t?

No amount of great literature is ever going to teach me how to be comfortable up a ladder fiddling around with batteries and buttons and little red things. I know this. I know I can’t rely on my friends to help me out every time either. You only get good at things through practice, so the smoke detector should be a warning to me – get practical.

Yes, I said to myself, but first since I’ve just made a coffee I’ll sit down for a quick read before I tackle the garden weeds. An hour later, I was still engrossed in The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides, a novel set in the 80s, partly about a girl who reads too much!

What excuse is there for people like me? I don’t know, except I also came across this sentence by Mary Jane Moffat: “Literature is one of the few resources we have in modern times for living the deep life and not being simply spectators of our own experience.”

This is so true: the more I read, the more I understand myself and others. This is worth something, surely.

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