Thursday, October 08, 2020

Reading in a Time of Chaos

I loved Frankie’s post “Writing in a Time of Chaos” last week, about writing in the wake (that’s the right word, I think) of all that is going on in the current political climate. And it got me thinking about how I choose to deal with nights like the presidential debate (not the right word, I think).

I’m supposed to watch the debates, right? Civil duty and all that. Be an informed citizen and voter and all that. And, as an educator, I ought to know what the kids will see, so we can discuss argumentation and debate. (Really, John, are that naive?) So I had a late cup of coffee and was ready to watch.

Or so I thought.

I turned the TV off at 9:30 and went upstairs to the safety of my Kindle, where I could make like an ostrich.

The truth is, I’m reading more than ever.

I live a pretty simple life, really. I spend time with my family, I write, teach, try to exercise daily, enjoy a glass of bourbon after dinner with a good fire pit, and I try not to get too high or too low (a mid-lister can’t afford to do either, can he?). But watching the debate, my reaction was similar to Frankie’s. No need to go into details, but you can guess what I think of the man.

I’ve been reading to quiet my mind at night. As a news junkie (I was a newspaper reporter before I went into teaching), I’ve found that reading helps me sleep. Not this night. Not after what we all witnessed. I reached for my Kindle (I’m bouncing between an old Travis McGee book, One Fearful Yellow Eye, and K.C. Constantine’s Saving Room for Dessert), fell asleep about an hour later, but then woke at 1:30 a.m. Like an idiot, I reached for my phone to see how the debate ended.

I read my CNN app and was even angrier. Even Travis McGee couldn’t put me at ease. I never fell back asleep, which made the next day a 20-hour marathon.

If there’s a silver lining (and, I always look for one) in the political chaos we’re living in right now it’s that I’m reading more than ever: Bluebird, Bluebird; Dark Rooms; Cold a Long Time; This Tender Land.

A loaded Kindle is a great thing these days.


Sybil Johnson said...

I decided not to watch the debate because I knew it would make me angry. My husband watched and gave me his thoughts, then I read the summary article in the paper the next day. I've been reading a lot lately, too. Lots of cozies and some non-fiction. They seem to help my mental state. Plus watching all of those old movies I talked about yesterday.

Ellen said...

I agree -- my Kindle is loaded, too! And I'm sure I'm reading more than ever as well. Between not wanting to venture out as much to shop and take walks, dealing with wildfire smoke in our current location (hubby and I are full-time RVers, so we move around all the time), and being in a spot with few TV channels (always a good thing), I fluctuate between feeling guilty for not writing more and feeling guilty about reading too much.

So thank you for this post on the power of reading as escape during a time when we all need to make like ostriches, as you say!