by Luke Preston | 26/10/2017
I tend to waffle, so if you're just after the essays click here [TL;DR]
I don't read very many books; a terrible confession I know, but an absolutely honest one. Not reading books, though, doesn't mean that I don't read. I read a lot, I just don't read many books.
Currently laying on my bedside table is Tribal Leadership: Leveraging Natural Groups to Build a Thriving Organization by Dave Logan, John King, and Halee Fischer-Wright. It's a fantastic read, the first quarter at least, which I'm afraid is about all I can say about it as I've started it about three times, but not yet actually finished it. (Another terrible confession.)
You see, these are terrible confessions because I am an occasional writer, and I know that all great writers are voracious readers. I know that to be a more accomplished writer I should read more, and there is no shortage of advice in the world telling us that I should be devouring as many books as I possibly can. Books make us smarter, more eloquent, more creative, improve our language skills and vocabulary, and so much more.
"In the case of good books, the point is not to see how many of them you can get through, but rather how many can get through to you." - Mortimer J. Adler
Today, I think reading is a luxury. It is, however, a necessary luxury that we should make time for. I wrote recently how I feel about people who constantly use the excuse of never having time for anything, and how I have committed to not using it. How we chose to spend our time is our choice and ours alone, but I think it's important to realise there are always knock-on effects of these choices.
I, for example, have made the choice to make time to exercise regularly (4 times - running ±35km or more per week) but this means that most nights, by 9 pm, I'm absolutely finished physically, and need to get to sleep. A choice to do regular exercise means that reading at night just doesn't work for me - I have tried, my efforts at starting and finishing Tirbal Leadership mentioned above is proof of this - so I try to make time elsewhere to read.
I read in the morning. I read during my lunchtime break. Sometimes on the toilet, sometimes while I'm cooking. I read the Internet. I read the news. I read opinion pieces. I read long-form essays (this latest one is profound if you're at all interested in the state of America right now) and short-form too. I try, as Mortimer J. Adler says above, to not to see how many of them I can get through, but rather how many that get through to me.
This year has to some extent been a rebirth for me. By my own choosing of course. This year, indeed my whole life, has and continues to be a product of all previous experiences and choices. But, this year has perhaps been the year that I have acknowledged that, truly. I am, where I am because of the cumulative effect of every single choice I have made in my life. Me, not you/they/that-which-cannot-be-explained. Me.
“Your relationship to yourself is and always will be directly reflected in all your relationships with others.” - Vironika Tugaleva
Over the past five or six years, I come to realise that if I want to be the best husband, the best dad, the best son, the best employee, I need to be the best possible version of me that I can be. Read that quote again by Vironika Tugaleva again, slowly, and then read it again, and again, and again. Look at the relationships with everyone around you, are they broken, are they problematic, are they an effort, do you hate them?
Is the common thread... You?
“She lies and says she's in love with him, can't find a better man” - Better Man, Pearl Jam
I want to be a better man.
I want to be a better husband.
I want to be a better father.
I want to be a better son.
I want to be a better South African.
I want to be more... Because I know what it is to truly to be less.
So, I seek out opinions/articles/essays which can help achieve that. I need to educate myself, I need to re-educate myself... Constantly, because I know that if I don't make a conscious effort each and every day, I will be none of these things and that I'm afraid just is not good enough.
I have a handful of essays which I read as often as I can because they have had a profound impact on me, and for me personally it takes time for information to sink in. To truly sink in. So I read them and then read them again. Then I let it marinate for a few weeks, months even. I try and apply the message in these thoughts to my own life, into my circumstances, and then I go back and read them again. These essays are saved on my laptop browser and in my phone, they are easily accessible to read as often as possible because my commitment is to be better, to be more. And, to be better I need to know more.
This archive is, of course, a living document. I'm adding to it, as and when something profound comes along. I'll do the same with this blog post