Reading is a Superpower
I have had numerous conversations over the years with friends about the value of long-form reading. The overwhelming majority of these conversations often include the following phrases “I just don’t have the time to read,” “I don’t even remember what I read, so it seems like a waste of time,” or “what does a book that was written over 100 years ago have to do with me today?”
I know exactly how they feel since my love of reading didn’t come until my 30s, and these excuses were exactly what I repeated for decades.
I often try in vain to convince my friend otherwise since I think long-form reading is the single greatest investment one can have in your growth.
The thing is, we are always reading; the only question is what we are choosing to read. In today's world, we are hit with a barrage of bites of information from the moment we wake up until we fall asleep at night. We feel it is essential to stay informed on the latest news and trends that are happening in real-time, so we don’t miss out on important information. And yet when we forsake long-form reading, we are doing just that. We are missing essential information that helps us be critical thinkers.
In Nicholas G. Carr’s book The Shallows: What The Internet Is Doing To Our Brains, he argues:
“What the Net seems to be doing is chipping away my capacity for concentration and contemplation. Whether I’m online or not, my mind now expects to take in information the way the Net distributes it: in a swiftly moving stream of particles. Once I was a scuba diver in the sea of words. Now I zip along the surface like a guy on a Jet Ski.”
Scuba Diving > Jet Skiing
I suggest to you, dear reader, that scuba diving is far superior to jet skiing for your growth.
If we were to take the ocean analogy further, where our goal is to truly understand the ocean and its inhabitants, I can see many benefits of being a scuba diver:
Being a scuba diver forces you to slow down. There is nothing fast about scuba diving. From the preparation to the execution and finally to the recovery. Everything has a reason, and you rush them at your own peril.
Being a scuba diver allows you to fully examine a topic that was previously outside your reach. I am reminded of one of my favorite documentaries, My Octopus Teacher, in which Craig Foster spent a year fostering a relationship with a female octopus on the coast of South Africa. By slowing down and doing a practice of visiting his new friend, Craig learns how she eats, sleeps, and defends herself from predators of the deep. More importantly, the octopus becomes a teacher to Craig, who is burned out from work and suffering from depression.