I barely have time to read for pleasure anymore, it seems, but I recently picked up a slew of books at bargain prices and vowed I would make time to read. I have missed the escape, the sense of adventure reading brings and lament that new generations tend to think words are only about instant communication. There are exceptions, I know, but most youth and young adults are consumed by technology: the bright colors, whirring graphics, and immediate gratification that modern communication offers.
Sitting in a still place with a book full of thousands of words probably seems a huge waste of time, not to mention a laborious task, to the unititated. What they haven’t discovered is how rewarding reading can be, how much you can learn about yourself and the world around you by sitting quietly and savoring delicious sentences and paragraphs.
One book I read (finally) was Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes. It’s been out for 15 years, and I’m embarrassed to admit that only now have I gotten around to reading it. It’s a fabulous memoir, perfect for enjoying as you sit outside on your deck or in your yard, listening to the sounds of nature and feeling the summer breeze tickle your skin. As you read, you will want to stop and look around and appreciate the moment—a major theme that emerges in the book.
It’s no surprise that this memoir would resonate with me. My husband is European, and we’ve traveled a lot throughout Europe, including Italy, which has its own special charm. I remember being lost in the Italian countryside—this was in the days before GPS. Peter and I stopped to ask two men walking down the road for directions. They were happy to help and started giving directions in rapid-fire Italian while pointing their fingers this way and that. I could tell Peter was barely following their instructions, but he politely thanked them for their help. Before we drove off, one man peeked in the window of the Suburban, saw Scott, Jasper, and Ross sitting there, smiled widely, and said, “Bella familia!” It’s a favorite memory and reveals the Italians’ love of family.
The author of Under the Tuscan Sun is an English professor who decided, together with her husband, to renovate an old villa in Tuscany. The book chronicles their journey through the ups and downs of renovation, as well as the immense pleasure they discover in the foods and culture of Italy. I admire Frances Mayes not only for her beautiful writing but also for having a dream and following it through. So many of us have dreams that wither and die like unplucked fruit.
Maybe now’s a good time to examine your dreams and consider ways to take steps to bring them to fruition. Of course, thanks to this stagnant economy, many of us have had to put our dreams on hold. As we bide our time, waiting for the economy to turn around, we can take advantage of this lull to create new goals that will bring fulfillment in smaller ways—like reading more books, throwing a dinner party for friends, taking a long walk in nature, or pursuing a hobby you’ve always wanted to try. This month’s cover story is about women who fish both competitively and for fun. I’m sure if you think about it, you can come up with some new goals that will enrich your life even if you have had to put your long-term goals on hold.
Take some time this month to think about what you really want to do but never seem to get around to doing. Then carve out some time to make it happen. Hopefully, among your goals, you’ll include getting more active. This month’s TW offers articles designed to encourage you and your loved ones to get out and exercise. Whether it’s throwing a Frisbee, bowling, or frolicking in the surf, physical activity not only makes you healthier, it also makes you feel better inside.
Whether it’s reading, fishing, or exercising, we all find fulfillment in different ways. It’s really about caring enough about yourself to schedule time for your own edification. You’re worth it, so start today!
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