Reading as Deliberate Confrontation

Anti-speed everything for elder, wiser time management .

Posted Apr 08, 2016

Source: "Reading" by Nakamura Daizaburo (1898-1947)

If something is worth doing, it is worth doing slowly. Our experience is all-day everywhere mini-information bursts and instant images. They flood us, giving rise to bullet points, fast cuts, faster dialogue, headlines, tiny messages, speed browsing. My wife and I went into an Irish bar in Houston a few months back and had a relaxing fun time alternating between cribbage, conversation, and listening to the Irish music. We were 90 minutes into the relaxation when we realized there were no screens in the bar. People really were there for conversations and great music. What a novelty!!

Given this info-tsunami, read something slowly and thoroughly for a change. I know many a connoisseur of the art of slow reading. I am one myself. We practice a form of what my friend Gary Strack, a former hospital CEO and mentor, calls “biblio-therapy.” When I went back to school at age 60, I evolved my studying practices into a slow-read, retention-centric, transform my thoughts, encounter-the-author way of thinking. It helped me grow. I see others do the same.

Yes there is time for fast reading. Indulge away and keep yourself broadly informed. But do another kind of reading. Be revolutionary. Slow down. And let’s do it regularly enough to feel the difference. It is good for us mentally and emotionally and physically. Mindfulness slows down our thoughts. Coaching slows down our clients so they can think. Cooking and eating slowly improves our health. With meditation and mindfulness and prayer, even window shopping, and strolling, let’s allow our insides not to have to speed up to keep up with the whirlwinds around us.

All this is about how to use time of course. Maybe my teacher, Frederic Hudson, founder of the Fielding Institute and adult developmentalist, was thinking about this when he wrote about how elders use time differently than the mid-lifers can afford to. Maybe this whole post is for 55-year-olds and above.

To successful elders, time is a precious gift. Our response to this gift is appreciation and reverence for life… Eldertime is “on loan.” We see it as more life, more opportunity, more daily adventure, more beauty, more human connection.

There is a paradox in elders’ view of time. Time is running out, yet there is no rush. Wrapped in the essence of life, and pursuing only values of highest priority, elders proceed with a sense of leisure. The mid-lifer is a begrudging engineer of passing time; the elder is a generous user of borrowed time. The mid-lifer faces deadlines and turns to work; the elder faces death and turns to life.  

~The Joy of Old,  A Guide to Successful Elderhood by John S. Murphy and Frederic M. Hudson, 1995, out of print, Geode Press,  Altadena CA 1995)

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