I was terrible at quiet reading in middle school. Laying upside-down, hair pooling on the floor, I would read my stories of heroes and brave and weak, realities stark and muddy. Sometimes I would read Young Adult Lit. Sometimes Sci Fi.
When I’m wrapped up in a world, I don’t think about not laughing or blushing or snorting when the story sings for it. I’m sure I concern my fellow perspirers every time I crack up listening to A Prairie Home Companion at the gym. I’m unclear on why no one else is giggling; maybe everyone else is listening to death metal; or Yanni.
But long before reading periods stopped being externally mandated, I had an internal need for them. Reading quiets my mind, lets me wool-gather within the excuse of learning. This is the beauty of longform.org. Just like my Twitter feed, I know I can go there and find something non-fiction to take me out of myself. Reading is a form of prayer in this way; demanding I open myself while retracing my own understanding of myself.
I’m not allowed to get lost in most of what I’m assigned to read at school. It’s part of my job to harass the author from the sidelines and prepare witty remarks for class. More than that, I am very rarely assigned anything I can dive into. Supreme Court cases or fiction-as-history have been the closest. Very few little academic writers consume my mind.
This makes it a much deeper struggle to tear myself away from my quiet reading. The rare times I giggle, or burst out laughing from an assigned reading, I now expect my professor to dismiss it (and my reaction) as light or ill founded. Thus, I carve my time to learn joyously out of the time allocated for my education. I continue to hope for something as fulfilling as my middle school’s quiet reading time.
“You see, when weaving a blanket, an Indian woman leaves a flaw in the weaving of that blanket to let the soul out.”–Martha Graham