Thursday, March 22, 2012

Words without pictures*

I love reading. It is one of my favorite things in all the world. Books, magazines, blogs ... I'll read anything and everything, including cereal boxes and the advertisements on public transportation. And so often, each item read touches off an explosion, a handful scattered links to further information: more books to read, websites to explore, artists and authors and musicians to discover, related topics I had never thought to investigate. This is, of course, part of the magic of reading, part of what I love so much.

But there are so many paths to follow! So many rabbit holes to go down! And time, as always, is the stumbling block. And so I am torn. To flit from interest to interest, exploring briefly whatever excites me, which is almost everything? Or to fall down each rabbit hole completely, absorbing myself in the crazy depths of one topic, reading everything there is to read, but surely never managing to touch on even half of the subjects that set my pulse racing? It is an impossible dilemma, and one I have struggled with since at least high school, when everyone is suddenly very interested in what you plan to Do With Your Life, because you need to apply to college and pick a major and find a career.** 

Lately, I feel like everything I've looked at has lead to an onslaught of more need-to-see stuff. My library book wish list is I'll-never-get-through-them-all long. Topics range from childrearing to masonry heaters, from neuroscience to sewing. I currently have 25 tabs open in my web browser. And that's just from the last hour. 

It can be overwhelming and brain-scattering and exhausting, for sure. But it can also be exhilarating and magical.***

Some recent connections:

Reading taproot led me to Phoebe Wahl (I am smitten with this work, in particular), Ben Hewitt, Golly Bard, thoughts of raising chickens, even more thoughts about soil health and compost, and Farm Anatomy (which in turn led me to Drawn In). So that's two books added to the list, several browser tabs opened, and even some stuff scrawled in red ink on the scrap of paper I'm using as a bookmark.

Reading Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life has me scrawling down names to investigate further. So far: Barbara Kruger, Jenny Holzer, Stephanie Brooks, Joseph Brodsky. And I am not that far into the book yet, so I'm sure there will be more.

*I don't know why, but I felt absolutely compelled to write this all-words post, even though it has very little to do with the supposed topics of this blog (sewing, cooking, blah, blah, blah). It is a mystery to me. I just couldn't help myself. Sorry. Or not. Rather more not after all, I guess. Why do I feel compelled to apologize? Why am I still typing this one footnote?

**What do you do when the "career inventories" you have to take are all inconclusive because you are interested in nearly everything? Apparently you start out studying biology with a view toward medical school, switch your major to philosophy, add a political science minor, become a writer/editor for a nonprofit, take an acting class because you think you want to be an actress, become a copy editor for an ad agency, learn to cook and sew, flirt with the idea of becoming a baker or librarian, continue to read everything, fantasize about starting a business without any idea of what sort of business you'd start, and begin writing a blog about your dilettante nature.

***Admittedly, some of today's scattered and exhilarated feeling (also, the extensive use of footnotes) may be due to caffeine. It affects me so much that I rarely drink coffee or soda, but this morning I couldn't resist the siren call of the fancy caffeinated beverage.

1 comment:

annette said...

Writer/researcher and fact checker (which entails abundant amounts of research) might be a good fit. It has taken me forever to figure out what I want to really be doing too, but it has been great fun figuring it out along the way!

I love Phoebe Wahl's work too, the family scenes are beautiful and I love her envelopes on the following page on her blog. Netflix has a documentary about Jenny Holzer, but I haven't watched it yet, you may want to check it out.