Thursday, July 08, 2010 by Amy Sorenson

Summer Reading

When I was a kid, I spent a lot of summer days reading. Since school was out, I could get my gymnastics workout done in the morning, and then the rest of the day was mine. I’d shower and bandage my rips, then find whatever book I was reading and head outside. We had an enormous covered patio out there that was always shady, and I’d sit in the rocking lounge chair and read for the rest of the day. Sometimes I’d get up for snacks (some grapes, maybe, or cold watermelon; sometimes my mom would have baked a coconut cake or that dessert with Oreos and whipped cream and butter mints or even a fruit pizza) or drinks or maybe to tease my sister a little bit, but mostly I read.

Those long, idyllic afternoons are now touchstones to me—moments of peacefulness I return to in my memory sometimes. It was delicious to not have any obligations, to read without anyone pressing me to close my book and do something productive. Sweet and relaxing to linger in the company of friends, even though they were characters in a book. Those memories are tinted with the scent of peaches and the sound of kids playing on the other side of the fence; they remind me that unprecedented peace does happen in a life’s small moments.

I tried a modified version of that summer reading program today. I was fighting off a headache, and it seems that holding still makes the headache less likely to happen. So I sat around for most of the day, reading my book (The Lace Reader) and eating occasional snacks (have you discovered Annie’s Bunnies crackers? They are awesome!), not really ignoring my children but not being a great mom, either. In fact, they cleaned the house while I hung out in bed reading.

And here’s the deal. Maybe because I do still have plenty of obligations and tons of things on my mental to-do list, or maybe because that headache was trying to be insistent, or maybe because there is always housework to do, I couldn’t enjoy my day dedicated to reading. Well, not like I used to enjoy it. It really did feel nice to relax and be slothful for a day. But it also felt indulgent; I felt lazy and unproductive. And also a little bit disappointed that I couldn’t enjoy the reading bliss as much as I wanted to.

I don’t know. Does that mean I have become a grown up? Or just that I need a long car trip in order to enjoy reading all day? Or that I have lost my ability to simply enjoy something without feeling guilty? Should I feel guilty? Or should I have worked harder at enjoying it more?

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I wish i had written this. I have felt this way all week. Lots of time and yet didn’t accomplish much or even relax much…want to scrap but overwhelmed with choice. what to scrap…I can never catch up…just writing this is depressing me. I think I will go to bed and read and fall asleep. tomorrow is another day!


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