By Stan Hall – As a writer, my biggest fear is that I will run out of things to write about. I know; it seems impossible with all of the things that are going on in the world today. But, it happens. Some writers, who have had the words leap from their minds and on to the computer screen for years and years, simply sit down one day and realize that nothing is there…a total blank. A total mental block of ideas. Luckily, I have not yet had that experience. As a matter of fact, my mind runs just the opposite. I’ve had many occasions, when writing a column, that I actually think of my next topic even though I am still working on the current one. I’m not sure if that is a curse or a gift. I guess it depends on who you are talking to.
But, even though I have never had writer’s block, I do think that there is something going on out there that is similar but on the other end of the spectrum. It is called reader’s block, an overwhelming feeling that you just can’t read another word. Everywhere you look, there are letters, e-mails and texts to be read, magazines piling up that are yet to be removed from their protective packaging; one best seller after another that you have never even turned a page of, and a stack of still folded newspapers that represent a small forest that is no longer with us. Not to mention the daily onslaught of bills and junk mail, and the continually growing supply of blogs, Facebook, twitter, and on and on and on. Your mind simply is overloaded with trying to keep up with an endless supply of letters and numbers delivered to the many outlets of your home and work and car.
There is even reading material thrown in your face when you are away from the normal flow. Billboards, real estate signs, directional signs, business advertising, signs in cabs, airports, bus stations, shopping malls, and restaurants. We even have reading forced on us now while in the bathroom. Not the traditional light bathroom reading supply in your home. I’m talking about full blown TV monitors that are placed right over the urinals in public bathrooms that try to get a message out to you. Isn’t anything sacred anymore? There are some things that still require intense concentration, free from distraction. The guy standing next to me last week will probably attest to that as well. By the way, sorry again about the shoes.
It amazes me to still see someone, when asked about a major event taking place in the world, to reply….” I hadn’t heard about that.” Really? How is that possible? Have you been stuck in an abandoned mine over the last few days or what? Or maybe you have been enthralled in the Gilligan’s Island four day TV marathon where you refused to let any other information enter your private sanctum.
While we are lucky to have this information stream run through our lives on a daily basis, it does become too much at times. Some people are just tuning out. Some will say that they are just tired of reading about all of the bad stuff that is going on. Some will say that they don’t really care if someone is stopping off to get a loaf of bread. Tweet this…..they say! Some say that it isn’t the reading they dislike; it is the spin that is put on. Just the facts ma’am. Most reading samples could be cut down expeditiously if that would ever occur. Some simply don’t have the time and some simply are not fond of reading…and sadly, there are some who simply still cannot read at all. That may be the saddest thing that you read today.
I get it. I feel the same way sometimes. But to quit reading all together seems to be a bit harsh. That is the equivalent of refusing to eat because there are too many choices on the menu or refusing to go to a museum because there are too many paintings on display. When and if you ever find yourself in a reader’s block state of mind, do what you probably should do with every quandary you have in life.
Recall the words of your mother. “All things in moderation,” is how I believe she stated it. This is true with everything from food to exercise to hobbies to social libations to, well… you name it. And it is also true with reading. Pick out those things that you enjoy reading and pick out those things that you know you should be reading. Be very selective and let brevity be your guide. I will never forget what my 4th grade reading teacher once told me. “Books can take you to places in your mind that your body will never reach.” It was true then and it is true now. Never let that fact be squandered away based on frustration caused by a useless and unneeded supply of messages in your in-box.
In the meantime, thanks to each of you who continue to read my weekly rants. And, for those who automatically hit delete, I promise I don’t take it personally. But since they won’t read this anyway…..they suck.
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The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. Stan L. Hall is the former (retired) director of the Victim Witness Program for the Gwinnett County District Attorney’s Office.