I’ll admit, I was never big on reading when I was growing up. Finally, when I thought I could sit down with a novel and actually enjoy reading from the front cover to the end papers or leaves, I started university. Let me tell you, when you take any bachelor of arts classes, your love of reading (if you ever had one) gets distorted, contorted and dissected into a cynical derogatory autopsy of words. My text books had scribbled notes in the margins, highlighted excerpts, coffee stains from the sleepless nights used studying and probably also my own tears of exhaustion.
After university, I eased my way back into articles and mindless reads hoping to find that love for reading again. Sometimes, I would stumble upon something that really caught my eye. Usually, I would have my sister test read something and then steal the book from her. (Sorry Amy, I think I lost one of your Mitch Albom books). Amy also got me books for my birthday that would catch my eye. “The Glass Castle” for example. It took me a week straight practically without sleep to read in entirety. (I’m a slow reader) It was AMAZING and I can’t wait for the movie to come out so that I can have a sister date and pretentiously criticize how much the movie missed out on the best parts of the book but captured my heart in some other instance.
I’ll admit again, I sometimes find myself in a reading rut. I’ll excuse myself from the task of reading because there’s nothing good to read. Really, I will have just busied my life with mindless conveniences to distract me from this looming obligation in my heart to get back to my reading nook. Again, I’m a slow reader. I like to read and re-read. Sometimes, I even read out loud to help me really focus. That could simply be due to having Adult Attention Deficit Disorder. Usually, I like to convince myself that it is due to delving into scripts instead of novels for much of my younger years. I would memorize my lines by walking around and reading out loud with a ball to bounce or a pencil clenched in between my teeth to help with annunciating and memorization.
Recently, I convinced myself that it was time to fulfill that looming obligation in my heart again. Last night at the bookstore I picked up a paperback memoir called, “The Happiness Project – Or, Why I Spent A Year Trying To Sing In The Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, And Generally Have More Fun” by Gretchen Rubin. Why? Because, I had heard of it before. It was a, “Heather’s Pick” at Chapters. It had a pretty cover. It wasn’t ginormous AND at the bottom of the front cover it says, “Now Includes a Start Your Own Happiness Project Guide”. So, TOTALLY. I want to sing in the morning. I want to clean my closets. I want to fight right. I want to read ANYTHING but ESPECIALLY enjoy reading Aristotle and darn it all, I want to generally have more fun! If this book is going to guide me to it, well then, here I go!
Here is a little insight into my 26 year old life (incase maybe you haven’t read my other rambling blogs here or maybe you don’t know me personally). It might help you understand why this particular title jumped out at me. I have been off work since June for medical problems. I recently had a break up. I grew up in a loving home that always struggle to make ends meet. I grew up getting used to devastating circumstances. Family deaths including my live-in grandma, my mother, aunts and uncles, friends, and so on (all mostly untimely). Our family home had a fire, I was sexually abused by someone our family once considered a friend. My mother lost her business and my father had a workplace injury putting him on disability for the rest of his life. It was never easy.. except that love got us through everything.
That being said, finding happiness has always been a hard journey. Though I can understand that each person deals with their own struggles and has a battle to face that I might never understand. To them I say, WE ARE NOT ALONE.
Why is all of this relevant? Well, this morning, I crawled back into my nook and as soon as I cracked “The Happiness Project” open, I heard the loud blasting sound of my roommate BLARING his music. It actually kind of made me laugh. I used to like reading in a quiet space with a scented candle burning in some well-lit space where I could have some alone time. This time, I couldn’t find the right lighting, so I was kind of squinting to see the words, there was loud music blaring, I’m out of candles and I’m pretty sure the litter box is due for changing. Here I am with this book in my hand and I’m fighting to not give up and to keep reading and not let ADD take over and discourage me.
So, I pushed through all the way to page 5 of “Getting Started”. The book begins by explaining the monotony and repetitive routines in her life that found her in a rut, unable to appreciate the blessings she has even though she knows full well of their existence. She explains the turning moment when she realized that change was in her hands and that happiness is a journey we must create for ourselves. Well, as you may understand by now, this is a parallel that we can all draw into our own lives. Well, at least I can.
I found myself wanting to pull out that old hi-liter from my university days and mark the parts that seemed most relevant to my life. I wanted to scribble in the margins and really study the words. “This could be it,” I thought to myself, “This could be the resource I need to get back on track.” You see, recently, I visited my doctor who has come to know my day to day life and at my last visit we sort of mapped out my real goals medically as well as socially and even professionally. I needed a plan. I have some homework to do of course.
Though there is no book that can actually be a guide to your own happiness, I think this book can actually be part of my homework. It was a reminder that even when life presents you with loud sounds and takes away all of your scented candles and seats you right next to a stinky litter box, happiness can be sitting right at your own fingertips waiting for you to just flip the page to the next chapter.
I reminded myself that defacing a book with hi-liter and scribbling in the margins is a sin to my obsessive compulsive rituals of wanting a book to always look like new so that I never feel as trapped as I did in a useless university class. Though, not all classes are useless… just the ones at The University of Ottawa.. or maybe just most of the ones I took… Nonetheless.. I decided that my thoughts were bursting.
I put the bookmark in place at page 5 and I came here to write out my thoughts. So far, I’ve discovered that no matter what, I should never give up on reading. I am already on route to finding happiness again and that each one of us have our own stories that we need to share!
So maybe I stopped reading because I wanted to share what I’ve learned. Maybe I couldn’t stand the smell and need to change the litter box. Maybe I need to tell my roommate to turn the music down. Maybe I need to buy a new scented candle and re-build a cozier nook. Though I’m only at page 5 and though I need to step out and run an errand, I know that even 5 pages of reading reminded me never to give up. I’m already determined to come back home and get back to my book. And I’m excited again. I’m in love with reading again.
We all just need that book that just reminds us to not give up, to stay excited and to share our lives with each other.