On reading and writing
Education is interestingly round (like a bagel) from where I look at it. The most basic, validatory form of education to describe the literacy rate in a population is defined as the ability to read and write a language. From there on education delves into various forms of algebraic calculations, scientific thinking, computer programming, and critical analysis. Eventually, the highest form of education which is research circles back to 90% of work being reading and writing. Education I believe, hence is our ability to read all that has been done before and write for all who are to come ahead.
In this note, I am sharing my thoughts on reading and writing, something that is gradually becoming an integral part of my adult life and something that has proved to be increasingly beneficial in my life.
My parents had always been avid readers and my house had always been filled with books, but I was 10 when a friend of mine first gifted me an Enid Blyton novel as a birthday gift. I ripped apart the wrapping paper in hopes of another toy but was confused about what sort of a gift is a book. I innocently looked up at my father and he said “It is a wonderful gift. Start with the first page.”
19 years later, I have gone through multiple phases of reading books, not finding the time to read any, flipping through the first 20 pages of every book before letting it dust, and finally to now, when I can habitually read 2-3 books every month.
I know finding time is hard. I know building a flow is hard. But eventually, it is about the why of it. And I don’t think I have a better why than curiosity. While I would give it an elaborate thought later on how to build a habit of reading, in short, I will only say this:
Read because you can only live one life. Each book that you read is a ‘pensive’ to another life peeled and refined to the most important things.
I was 15 when I had a passionate heart burning crush on a girl. It was an age where so many thoughts ran around my head and so many emotions filled my veins. I don’t know if it was my passion for her, or it was my passion for my own thoughts that finally one day I started writing letters that I never posted. In 90 letters for the next 2 years, all I did was write and learned to articulate the complex cocktail of thoughts that I had in my head.
At the very core, you don’t write because you have to communicate with someone else. You write because you have to communicate with yourself. Thoughts are fleeting, unformed, and often go around in loops when you tumble them in your head. When you lay them out on paper, they start to open up and make sense.
When you write you unfold the thought process and apply the stress of articulation to your thoughts. The stress to articulate, in turn, forces you to organize the corners of your thought. It takes time but it happens and as you learn to articulate the most complex ideas to the world, you find the same satisfaction that a kid has when he is able to say his first word. You feel heard.
Write because the one life that you have is infinitely interesting. When you write, you will open the intricacies of thought for yourself to marvel at. The fact that progeny might read (if they do) is merely a collateral.
The explosive combination of reading and writing
If you can read and write, you don’t just live in your home and in your time. You join the race of human beings who live in a corner of the world that transcends space and time. You meet the people from ages bygone and you speak to all who are to yet come in this world. And before them all, you gather the voice to eternally communicate asynchronously with your contemporaries. You learn to talk through asynchronous time. Even if no one is there when you say, many will be able to listen when you are not there.
If you read enough, you automatically hear the growing inner voice screaming in your head to share. You look around for people to share your thoughts, but often find people in their own flow of lives. Once you realize that it was not the people that you needed, it was merely yourself, you begin to find solace in writing.
And then, what happens is serendipity. You go through interesting things in your readings and you meet interesting people from your writings. You discuss, explore, and add meaning to your existence in a way that you could never before. I urge all human beings to pick up this endeavor and if you are lost on how drop me a message.