Friday, September 12, 2014

On Reading, Elizabeth Gilbert, Oprah, and The Life You Want Weekend

I love social media.  Love. It.  By giving me a platform to write and connect, social media really has transformed my life.  I have a new career teaching social media, writing, and my newest venture, working on the Hay There Social Media team.  I do all of this from the safety of my keyboard in my home (which is ideal since I am accepting that I am pretty much an introvert).

But the thin line between love and obsession has been blurred.

Instead of making something creative with my hands, I have logged in way too many hours on Pinterest.

Instead of getting lost in a book, I am endlessly scrolling through Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Knowing that I was using social media escape as my escape instead reading was my most alarming observation. 

I realized this on my last birthday, almost a year ago.  I had been pining for Signature of All Things written by my favorite author, Elizabeth Gilbert.  I started reading, and couldn’t do it.  I felt overwhelmed with the fact that it was 499 pages long.

I’m not stranger to long books! Was the 140 character model of Twitter was melting my brain?!

I felt defeated and kind of out of sorts. Kind of like the time when I started the Couch to 5K program: I thought I was in awesome shape until Week 2.  I was out of breath running for five minutes. This spurred a minor identity crisis.

I was not comfortable with this choosing Facebook over actual books, especially at night, which, left me feeling not well rested at all.  So this summer, I tried reading Signature of All Things again.

I had to read slowly at first since the story took place in the 1800s.  The beautifully constructed sentences that created an intriguing plot, a vivid setting, and multidimensional characters were a far cry from the status updates I normally read.

I forgot how therapeutic it could be to become utterly lost in a story.  I loved how I could identify with a fictional character from a different time period, reminding me that we are all on a path of self-discovery.

As I muscled through the book, my love for reading was reignited.  I took that fire and read Poser by Claire Dederer.  As I read about how yoga helped her make sense of the seismic shift that takes place during motherhood, I felt comforted that I was not the only one who had found her long, lost breath in a dimly lit yoga studio.

And then started reading Eat Pray Love for the second time because this book will always be the mother of all self-discovery books.

Well, that and a little something called The Life You Want Tour, in which Oprah is technically the main attraction.  However, when I head that Elizabeth Gilbert was going to be there, I knew that I must go.

I missed an opportunity to see her at Wayne State College during her promotional tour for Signature of All Things.  Something was going on with the kids or Harrington was out of town.  I don’t remember.  The dread of missing my favorite author speak still gnaws at me, much like the time I decided to study for a test instead of going to see the Violent Femmes my senior year of high school.

I may have seats in the upper bowl and I may need a telescope to see the stage, but I am so excited to finally hear Elizabeth Gilbert, the author who has inspired me to find the courage to chase happiness, talk in person.

Thank you, Elizabeth Gilbert, for reminding me how much I not only love reading, but that I need it in my life.

Do have an activity that you love that has been tossed to the wayside?  What was it?  Were you able to find it again?


Liz Parker said...

I agree with you, Erin - I think that Twitter/FB impacts our attention span for books, at the least.

I am going tonight to Oprah :) my mom is going with my dad tomorrow since I'll be at Cedar Point. Bummed to miss Elizabeth Gilbert since I liked Eat, Pray, Love, though.

Erin Janda Rawlings said...

Have fun!! I have to miss Friday. We should exchange notes! Have fun at Cedar Point!