I use to be one of those people that used my lunch hour to read or to walk. Occasionally, I would perch myself on a bench in the spring or summer and watch coupled Canadian geese waddle along the sidewalks. But that person has disappeared. I am now a loner woman with her head down clutching her phone as she quickly checks emails, or text messages as I walk down the hallway of my office building with a whirlwind glance upwards to ensure I don’t tumble into a person, or more embarrassingly a wall. When I finally plop down in a seat in the cafeteria the frantic dash accelerates as I tap, tap into my phone responding furiously to text messages, checking ad campaigns for my self-published stories, checking emails, or scheduling items into my calendar.
Today, I decided the Beautiful and Damned by F. Scott Fitzgerald deserved my attention. The book has bounced around in my bag for the last few months and made a series of rounds to work, to coffee shops, and to the grocery store all in the hopes that if by chance I have a few minutes, I might crack the spine and turn the pages and get swept away in the story between Anthony and Gloria.
But, I have not made the time.
Today it finally happened, on my lunch hour. I brought my phone with me simply as a clock and as I turned the pages I was once again carried off to the roaring twenties with Anthony and Gloria making their way down 5th Avenue in New York in the winter time. Their love is in the blossoming stages. However, Gloria is a fickle girl with many suitors so it’s hard to say if Anthony will be the winner. But I am finally engaged to see what happens.
I read the Great Gatsby a few years ago and loved it right from the start. It was a page-turner, don’t-interrupt-me, what-do-you-mean-we-have-to-go? kind of book. I have to admit the Beautiful and Damned is a tougher read for me as I have difficulty relating to Anthony who plans to work but so far has never really made the time, and Gloria who is beautiful and shallow. Once I set aside my own assumptions aside though, I was happily engaged in these two characters as two people I may not be friends with but it might be fun to watch them having fun from the sidelines.
And yet, in spite of this new interest in their lives, there was still a month long hiatus before I carved time out to catch up with them again. Why? I can make a long list of excuses: I kept forgetting my book on my lunch hour, I had to do groceries,….you know the reasons already. But I think I was also looking for a bigger window of time when I could get fully engaged in the story. Then it occurred to me: isn’t it better to read a little at a time then never finish the book? Most of us know that big projects only get done with baby steps. Whether it’s reading a book, running a marathon, or writing a book – it all comes down to carving out time consistently to get the job done. If that’s only 10 minutes every 3 days so be it. But at least in two months you can finally say, I’ve read THAT book.
There’s one more element to this. My phone. I’ve become obsessive with it and use it as a work tool (which is good) but also as a crutch that prevents me from doing other things or engaging with other people. There’s a lot of life to be lived that I’ve hit the pause button on. Maybe it’s time to hit play.