5.3.11

Few

I am envious of other people's thoughts. Not in in the desiring to commit plagiarism-sort-of-way, the cardinal sin of graduate school. I guess I could say I envy thoughtfulness. I am always so amazed at what peoples' brains generate, and how much time they all seem to have to read and reflect and communicate. I read something and I think to myself, great quote, but how on earth did you find the time to read that book to discover it? Why did you decide to read it in the first place? And why did that one sentence, above all others, stand out to you at that particular time?

Every one of us is on a different part of our journey in life. I remember times where I would read great and thought-provoking books, and hang on their every word. These days are very different. I look at my stack of books I have on my shelf. I brought them to Bainbridge with me because either I wanted to read them for the first time or wanted to dive into them for a second round.

Once you've reached graduate school, thankfully there are LESS textbooks and more online sources. I only had to buy one book this quarter, and even that I realized too late that I could have gotten it from the library. Two of my classes this quarter are completely textbook-less. The UW bookstore is completely full of texbooks still, so I wonder if this trend is just a grad-school thing. In any case, now all of my readings are saved to my computer. I'm reading about the Black Freedom Schools of Mississippi in 1964, project management exit strategies. Non-digital and non-academic reads include a book or two on marriage that I pick up once in awhile. I'm going through the Old Testament right now, and just started Leviticus.

My problem is that I try to do too many things. School has definitely taken over my life, so I've mostly put my want-to-read books on the shelf and am staring at the computer most of the time. Nevertheless I check out books from the library ALL the time. I love the library. And I love it even more because it's a 8 minute walk away. When I need to get out of the house, I go to the library. The walk from our house to there is past the high-school, so it's 20 mph in a school zone and unlike the rest of the island, has sidewalks! Makes for a nice walk. ANYWAYS I am usually all-too-overeager in my library selections. I kill my back in the load that I sometimes have to carry on my walk home. This is all to say that I want to read EVERYTHING. Books I've heard good things about, books that have been on my Amazon "Wish List" for years, and books I think would be good for my life right now. All these books end up sitting by the couch in my basket. Once they're in there, they're generally never moved. What's the point of picking up a book, reading a page, then putting it back? Some books you can do that with, but not the kind of books I pick. All these books are good things. I want to glean from each one of them. But I'm so overeager that I end up with NOTHING. I get overwhelmed and end up back on my computer, studying my online school texts. ugh.

I watched a Nooma episode called "Shells" a few months ago. Rob Bell talks about how he took his daughter to the beach one day and she was so excited about the shells that she found that she collected and collected them until she couldn't fit any more of them in her arms. He likened this to the ridiculously busy and full lives we try to lead, where we gain a tiny bit of everything but a whole lot of nothing.

That's my life. As long as I overwhelm myself with options, I don't truly gain from anything. Rob Bell in the video says:

"May you drop your shells in pursuit of a simple, disciplined and focused life, in which you pursue the few things that God has for you - and may you be enabled to say NO to some things, because you already said YES."

Wow. I'm so blessed to have a life with so many choices, with so many good opportunities. But how do I say no to some of them? How do I find the few?
I think that's what my thoughtful friends that I spoke of in the beginning have already discovered. They have found the few and dived deep into it. That's where all the treasure is found. That's where gleaning and insight come from.

So that's what I hope for myself. I want the courage to say no to most things and the wisdom of what to say yes to - and the grace to stick with it.

I guess that means I have to give up some of those lingering library books.

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