Have you ever found something that instantly transports you to another time in your life? I recently found my diaries in a box while cleaning out my childhood closet. It reminded me that I started documenting my life in first grade, in a pink journal adorned with Cabbage Patch dolls. I wrote about everything that happened in my day—drama by drama. I’ve kept a journal ever since, in one form or another, but have to admit I don’t spend much time returning to re-read them. As much as I like to reflect, reading about my past sometimes makes me feel stuck. I get caught up in all the emotion. I’m actually taken back in time to whatever turmoil I was feeling. It can be heartbreaking. However, my first-grade journal seemed like a potential opportunity to revisit a simpler time. I thought, perhaps my six-year-old perspective would remind me how to see the world through a fresher lens.
Much in that journal caught my attention, and I have a feeling I’ll be reflecting on it in the weeks to come. One thing that immediately struck me was my perspective on reading. According to my journal, I felt real six-year-old conflict over completing my school-required summer reading list. Although I loved to read, finding time was hard between my dance classes, dates with friends, and trips to the beach. I wanted to read but I also wanted to play—I had a hard time finding balance.
Ahh. That word balance. II continue to struggle with finding it all these years later. While packing my bags for a few days away, I looked at a stack of books on my desk. I stared at the pile and asked myself if I should carve out time to read. That is, for no other purpose than pure pleasure. Really, I chided myself, why is this such a difficult decision? Well, as the self-professed queen of multitasking, I typically choose books related to my work. I love reading about psychology, anthropology, the brain, and the like. I also recognize that reading these kinds of books feeds my need to stay “productive,” and that often those books inspire me to dive into research of some kind. Books are my intellectual springboard, so to choose a book for no other purpose than pleasure would mean I would also be shifting my perspective while on vacation.
I know it’s time for a change—leisure reading is a good thing and productive in its own way. But I’m starting slow. This summer, my self-required summer reading list is filled with my favorite classics. I’ll be interested to see if I’ve gotten better at finding that balance I struggled with even at age six!
I’m taking next week off from writing to you, so I want to wish you a very happy Fourth of July holiday. As we enter the holiday week, ask yourself if there is anything you can add to your life that will help you find balance—whether that’s reading, sleeping, seeing a movie, or spending time with friends or family. Add in some good leisure this holiday, because that will probably be the part you look back on with a smile.