I come from a long line of readers. My family just loves to read. My mom started me on the road young. I was a colicky, difficult baby. I insisted on being held and I wanted to be talked to. Constantly. So my mom would sit with me in the chair, and read me her books. She said they were smut novels, but they were books nonetheless. My entire growing up, I remember seeing my cousin, laying on the couch reading at every opportunity (don’t get me wrong, he was a hard worker, that did lots of activities, but if he could find a minute, there was a book in hand.) His sister has been in a book club for years. She has introduced me to some good stuff.
We read pages to stretch our minds. We read often purely for entertainment. And everything in between.
After years of reading and loving words, I chose to go to college for an English and Journalism degree. I got to school realizing I had not read many of the given classics that should have been found in my school. I did my best to catch up and hid in the conversation when the rest came up for discussion. I felt less than, like a fraud, but I soldiered on.
Half way through my freshman year, I met a guy in my literature classes that absolutely fascinated me. We spent a lot of time reading and talking about reading. I bluffed the best I could there, but truth be told, I didn’t understand half of what he said. I was definitely less than, definitely a fraud.
I read so many things I had only heard of, many I had never heard of. I wrote my papers, I learned everything I could. And to tell you the truth, I was really proud of myself for reading so much, so constantly. And to tell more truth, I thought much of the material I was reading was dry and snobbishly academic. So many of them I read just so I could say I read them (Les Miserables being one).
There were some I chose to read, and enjoyed, see Henry James, Toni Morrison and Emily Dickinson, but please don’t ask me when I have pulled any of them out of my library. The only old friend I have read in years is Chaim Potok–and I’ve been moving through is very slowly for many, many months. I am truly less than, truly a fraud.
I am inordinately proud that I did just read a very long historical fiction by Caleb Carr, The Alienist. But now my brain fills incapable of picking up another worthy piece.
Daily, I see comments or posts in social media from people so much smarter than myself. I see what they read on Goodreads, or what they comment about on Facebook, and I see again, I don’t really belong.
The girls and I set off for the library today. I had my one book to return because I had actually read it and another because I found the tone and attitude of the author extremely insulting. I have three of my books left. Two of them are books I will likely learn from, the one I chose to read is a Murder She Wrote novel. As you probably guessed, not a smut novel, but not exactly a literary challenge. And I feel so guilty for not picking the ones that will grow me.
But I am scared of them. I am afraid they won’t penetrate my brain or will just point out how much less than I am, how much of a fraud I am.
I browsed the movies at the library today. Even there I was afraid to pick things like, A Farewell to Arms or The Great Gatsby (both of which I have read–3 lifetimes ago). I was too afraid that I would try to watch them and not follow them or not be interested in them, or they might remind me how much less than I am, how much of a fraud I am.
I ran away, I hid. So now I come here and pour out the truth that I never fit in the literary world, that I have lived a lie of intelligence for so many years. Now my lies, leave me raw, ashamed, and embarrassed. I never fit. I never belonged. There was really nothing for me to study in college because the one thing I enjoyed and pretended to know was a sham. Now, I have lost not only my ability to write a decent paper, I have lost my ability to read worthy words. I have been stripped of that which I was proud of. I have finally admitted I am shallow and empty. Unfortunately, it does nothing to make me feel better. I am still a sham.
I have lost my words.Survive til you Thrive!