Turned Corners

in Reflections3 months ago

This Sunday, the family went to a book fair. Not for the books, but because there was a presidential panel there for the upcoming elections early next year, and my wife wanted to listen. Whilst she was doing that, I decided not to subject Smallsteps to the boredom and instead took her around the fair stands of books and to find what else we could do. There was a craft room where we could make bookmark characters out of folded paper. It was a lot of fun and Smallsteps will make one for each of our Christmas guests, with characters that represent them.

If interested in trying: Instructions

While 95% of the books were in Finnish, I did find a small stand that had some English classic titles and bought a couple. One of them was Blood Meridian by Cormack McCarthy, which I am looking forward to reading, as I have heard it is quite an incredible journey. However, I haven't been able to read a single book since the stroke. It is incredibly energy intensive to read as my brain doesn't make the pictures of association automatically. My imagination doesn't run free, it is caged by my manual ability and therefore, my conscious awareness. So much of the enjoyment is taken out of reading when there is no automated flow to the mental imagery.

However, if I am to learn anything new, or build up my internal database for future application, I have to go through these processes and get more comfortable, with being uncomfortable. It is hard to have to continue to do something that was once enjoyable, which has now become work, but this is the situation many of us find ourselves in throughout our life. Normally it comes as we progress to the point that it is too easy or, we are just no longer interested in what we are doing, but normally we have the option to change to something else we are more interested in.

This is actually something I am very unsure about, because normally our interests are "inspired" by something in our experience, and then the interest builds as we imagine ourselves doing that thing, or improving in that thing. I don't actually have this ability, as my imagination is not very good at visualizing what I have no experience with, which means that I struggle to build enthusiasm and motivation for anything new. A weird problem - one of many my brain has.

It is not acceptable to me to just turn the corner of the page down and stop my life because I can no longer do what I used to be able to, or freeze myself in time and place, becoming more and more irrelevant as time goes on. It is not that me attempting to counteract it is going to succeed, but I have to at least try to improve my experience throughout this life, if for no other reason than to set an example for my daughter.

It was a stark reminder when Smallsteps said the other day, "If you can do it, I can too, Daddy", that I am a rolemodel for her and as such, need to demonstrate what it means to live a good life, even if I don't feel the results of a good life. In some ways, I suspect that my feelings are similar to those suppressed by some kind of anti-depressant, where it lifts the lows, but also trims off the highs. There is very width to that band, and nothing that sparks enough interest to develop the motivation to act upon it. It is like desensitization to experience. And while I want my daughter to develop strong emotional understanding and control, I don't want her to bury her feelings in a bid to trim the lows and highs. That is not control, it is avoidance.

I am reminded every moment of every day of the limitations, yet I have also been avoiding moving on fast enough. It isn't that I haven't accepted my current capabilities, but I have been putting on hold adding new skills to me range, things that I have never tried before. This is partly because I am no longer easily engaged into something new, but also because I haven't actively developed the habits to force engagement. Forcing life is something a lot of people disagree with, but I have found that even before I had a stroke, it is necessary at times, as to get the best out of ourselves, we have to at least occasionally do what we don't want to do. If we can't flex those muscles, we are going to be heavily limited.

Reading a book doesn't seem like a challenge to most people I assume, but for me it is almost a mountain, because while I want to read this title, I have zero motivation to actually do it. How can we both want and not have motivation simultaneously, is a question to explore for another day. But for now, I have to turn to the page my life is on, remove the bookmark, and keep progressing onto the next chapter.

Smallsteps isn't a placeholder, she is a book I never want to put down.

[ Gen1: Hive ]


Your motivation and perseverance is really commendable. Reading a good book is a challenge that I also have. I can't go to the next pages until I can understand it, so it takes me a long time to even read a few pages. This is because of my perfectionism because I want to understand what the meaning is and I don't want to move forward until I understand it and this only ends in exhaustion and incompleteness! I guess the effort is important because the few pages I complete I understand and learn new things. So I haven't lost anything as long as I learn something even by reading a few pages and not finishing it! As long as I learn, however little, then I am victorious! This is my thinking.

Speed isn't the main factor I think. Lessons learned is important though. I know many people who read a lot, but seem to have learned nothing that they can apply to their lives. Does it make it a waste of time?

Reading has always been a lot of work for me. Not because I have a learning disability or a physical one like you are talking about, but it's just not something I find enjoyment in. That isn't to say I haven't found books enjoyable, but it often takes me a long time to get through them and it often ends up feeling more like work than enjoyment. Have you considered starting with a book that you already know? Something short that you are familiar with might make it easier to retrain that connection. Then again, I'm not a doctor, so don't listen to me!

but it often takes me a long time to get through them and it often ends up feeling more like work than enjoyment.

I have never been a fast reader either, but I have had a rich imagination that can build a solid world to remember a book by. At least if it is visual - if it is math, I suck!

Have you considered starting with a book that you already know?

This is a good question! I just finished reading the Narnia series to Smallsteps, which is something I read when I was around 8 and still have images for. It has been interesting as the pictures are there, because I have them "saved", but the parts that I didn't have a strong image for, were difficult to fit into the scene.

Ah, that is interesting. Like I said clearly I am not a doctor!

I have never read Blood Meridian, but I have read several other books by Cormack McCarthy, several years ago: the Border Trilogy(All the Pretty Horses, The Crossing, and Cities of the Plain) and The Road, that I discovered after seeing the movie.

My father spent his whole career as a librarian in one of the most important libraries in Paris. So, I and most of my siblings have a reverence for books. My eldest brother, Philippe, buys more books than he is able to read, although he reads for several hours every day.

This will be my first attempt at a McCarthy book and, I have never seen any of the movie adaptations. I actually listened to a podcast that spoke of Blood Meridian and it sounded amazing, so I want to give it a go.

You obviously like his writing enough to read several works - what in it stands out to you?

My father spent his whole career as a librarian in one of the most important libraries in Paris.

It is hard to shake some of the lessons learned from parents - good and bad :)

Now the question is, do you read physical books, or have you moved over to digital?

Personally, I struggled when I tried digital (pre-stroke), as it didn't give me the tactile feedback of paper, nor the smell.

Now the question is, do you read physical books

Yes, physical books:

I tried to read digitally, but it was not for me. I am too old for this shit.

I have the same problem mate, zero motivation. I stop reading after some pages and only few pages everyday. By the way, I used to be a reader before :)

Isn't it strange how our appetites change over the years?

It is incredibly energy intensive to read as my brain doesn't make the pictures of association automatically.

For some reason my imagination also got worse. Have you ever read manga? It already has pictures so maybe you would not lose the motivation. Right now I am rereading Berserk manga and it is incredible story with stunning art.

One of the joys of reading is to own the images in the head - no one can take them away, no one has the same :) Never got into Manga, but do like some Anime.

I know my experience is far away from what you are facing but if it helps its worth trying. Many years ago, when I was getting into mountainbiking I was experiencing something similar. I wanted to go on the bicycle it was a great feeling relaxing after a nice two hour ride, but we live at sea level, and the nice paths start uphill. I was not in shape at all, I remember going with my brother one day and having to turn around after 10 minutes as I was struggling trying to follow him, and it was not even uphill yet!

Through the years, I have gained much more shape, but it always stresses me to think I have to start my ride going uphill for a while. The days I just go, the satisfaction feeling is huge, not just for the excercise, but also for being able to beat my mind.

Its a long process, and I imagine yours is even harder, but it is worth the effort as you improve with every try. And if part of the reward is showing smallsteps, that is the biggest reward I can imagine.

This is a great image for me - thanks! This is what I am hoping will build over time, where I am able to start reading "uphill", but then enjoy once I am on the fun trails of the book :)

This is also another person who wrote about Cormark McCathy sometime ago but here you are talking about him again. It is like he makes amazing books because he has a good reputation and you said reading books doesn’t seem like a huge work to so many people
I think you’re wrong, lol. Reading a book is a huge work for me and I may just be reading a page per day. That’s how lazy I am when it comes to reading books

What makes it so hard for you to read do you think?

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That is one of the many things that come with having a family and children. You want what is best for them, and you strive to give it to them. Parents are the first role models for children, and you are working hard to be the best one for your daughter. I am sorry to hear about your struggle with reading, but I am happy that you are facing it head on. Would listening to audiobooks be better? I've heard some do it while driving.