July 31, 2014
"Do you read?” Ask this question of most folks down here in the south and you're almost guaranteed to get the overly defensive response, “Of course I can read!”
Well that’s very nice, but the question wasn’t can you, it was do you? Not questioning your literacy, just wanting to know if you apply it. If the answer is yes and you implore of them what's the last book they read, eight out of 10 will say The Bible. However, if you ask them what the first three words of the good book are, six out of the eight have no idea.
So, do you read? Picking up and glancing at a newspaper once in a blue moon doesn’t count; neither does reading the instructions on the back of a box of microwavable fish sticks. Recreational reading is what we’re talking about here. Not reading something because you have to or need to, but just because you want to. Oh, you don’t like to read just for “fun” huh? Well joke's on you then, because you’re doing it right now. You don’t have to be reading this (but you are) and there sure as hell isn’t any reason you need to read this (but you are), so what are you reading for? Let me guess--you’re bored and there’s nothing better to do, or you’re in the crapper and it helps pass the time (helps to pass something).
Either way, you made the decision to pick this column and start reading on your own. So guess what, right now you’re reading for recreation, like it or not. Unless of course you decide at this moment to stop. But if you go any further it falls into the "reading for fun" category. It is a travesty that in most homes here in America, the “family bookcase” has been replaced with the “family DVD collection.”
What’s worse, most kids in our digital age have little or no imagination. Why should they? Anything they might possibly imagine is already available in a limited edition, three-disc set, with wide screen and surround-sound option. Why bother with reading a book, when it’s so much easier to insert a disc and press play. Why use your mind to create your own version of a story and its characters when someone else will do it for you? It's so much easier to be stupid and lack any sense of open creativity or originality. Sadly this means that in the future we will eventually be subjected to repetitive reruns or revamps when all originally created material has been exhausted.
For those who view reading as a chore, it is not as bad as it seems and it is a great exercise for the mind. And let's be honest. There are probably some of you who could use a few thousand mental push-ups. After all, the human brain is a like a muscle and if you don’t use it you lose it. (Which is really ironic, because I use my mind all the time and people are constantly telling me I’ve lost it).
Reading not only exercises the mind, but it stimulates our creative abilities and fuels our imaginations. We won’t go into a whole campaign about how “reading is fun," because you either like it or ya don’t, and nothing said in this column will ever change your mind. However take notice--as we grow older, recreational readers are more likely to seem more focused, carry more knowledge and retain a more active memory. Whereas non-readers seem to sink into a state of repetitive, ignorant bliss. Seriously, how many of you have an older family member, who seems to tell the same jokes and stories every time you see them? Uh-huh, and how many books do you see laying around their house? Now this is not to say reading will curb Alzheimer's or make you a better story and joke teller but it couldn't hurt.
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Hope to hear from ya, until then try and stay focused. See ya!