I was fortunate to have a mother who loved to read and lucky that she gave me the freedom to read, both in time and scope. No volume was out of bounds, no censorship. This gave me enormous joy and learning. I was allowed to kick back on my bed and read for hours. Dad used to call me mattress-back (no tittering in the back stalls). I think this idea of reading being sacred was formed in my mother’s childhood when to spend time with a book was seen as a dereliction of your household duties. To read Mum had to hide under a bed, but even there my Nana would shoo her out with a broom to chase Mum back to the housework.
Sometimes I was the right age to process the information correctly, but even when I wasn’t the words just added to my growing consciousness. It is the most brilliant way to expand your horizons. You don’t even have to leave your bed. You can travel around the world, making discoveries. Find other people who feel exactly the way you do and those who are absolutely opposite to you. Reading will open your thinking, help you to consider myriad points of view and improve your emotional intelligence. You can explore sexual fantasies and spiritual mysteries. I still get surprised at how emotional I can become when reading.
Recently, I read Caitlin Moran's book HOW TO BUILD A GIRL. I love her straight up style, that her female character loves sex, that it explores how we can change our lives to be truer to ourselves rather than fitting in to get along with others. There is a terrific treatise within the novel about cynicism, even though it's lengthy it bears quoting, because I find it heart-breakingly true of our society.
"For when cynicism becomes the default language, playfulness and invention become impossible. Cynicism scours through a culture like a bleach, wiping out millions of small, seedling ideas. Cynicism means your automatic answer becomes 'No'. Cynicism means you presume everything will end in disappointment. And this is, ultimately why anyone becomes cynical. Because they are scared someone will take advantage of them. Because they are fearful their innocence will be used against them - that when they run around gleefully trying to cram the whole world in their mouth, someone will poison them.
Cynicism is, ultimately fear. Cynicism makes contact with your skin, and a thick black carapace begins to grow - like insect armour. This armour leaves you almost unable to walk. You cannot dance, in this armour. Cynicism keeps you pinned to the spot, in the same posture forever."
We really need to think about any decision that leads us to curb our enthusiasm. Think about how joyful it is to be in the company of people who are thrilled by their life, whether they're living it large or small. Do you default to cynicism?