The guy to the right pulled out his phone and pointed it outside the window. The guy to the left did the same. What are they looking at? Certainly not at the books laid out in front of them.
I pulled out my phone, too.
It’s like going on fifty first dates within a single morning. You’re unemployed (lonely), inexperienced (clumsy in the sack and unsure of what you want), and desperate for approval.
Please love me! you say as you hand out that résumé. Tell me that I’m wanted and needed, and that I’m not like the others. Tell me that I’m not a waste of space, and that the fancy slip of paper with my name on it actually means something.
I kept the shorts and sandals at home and remembered to shave.
Up to the first company I go. The recruiter’s wearing a shiny purple ribbon, with “ALUMNI” embroidered in gold. It’s like he’s saying hey, I’ve been in your shoes before. He speaks first.
“So, tell me what you do.”
I tell him. Thirty seconds, tops.
“Cool, we’ll put your résumé into the system.” He opens his hand for the handshake, but by the time our hands meet he’s already looking over my shoulder.
There would be no second date for us.
Someone was telling me that they read over two full-fledged books a week while juggling their own start-up venture and an undergraduate computer science workload. I felt like a chump sitting next to him. Is that even possible? I asked.
“Sure, I just make time for it.”
Whether or not he was exaggerating about his reading pace is beside the point. Reading is not a competition, despite my first desire to match his pace just to prove that, hey, I am productive and smart and worldly, too. Funny how envy and competition work, even for someone who identifies himself as not being overly competitive. Sometimes I wonder if I’m kidding myself.
There is something to be said about having priorities in life though, and whether or not your current actions match those priorities. I tell people reading is important to me, and that I enjoy it (and I do), so why wasn’t I dedicating more time to it?
“I don’t have time for it” is not a legitimate excuse. Everybody has 24 hours in a day. How you choose to spend that time speaks volumes about what is important to you — more than any words can do. It’s why neglectful parents have such trouble reconnecting with their children in adulthood. “If you’d loved me so much, why didn’t you spend any time with me?”
For them, it is too late — the damage stays. The possibility of death may speed the healing process, but they’ll never be able to recover the lost years and the pain it caused.
But I don’t think it’s too late for reading.
My father likes to tell me about his college days (“some of the best years of my life”), and how he juggled 21+ units (a lot) of engineering coursework as an international student to save his own father money for tuition, all while dating Mom at the same time. Every night he would read for at least fifteen minutes before going to bed. The only condition for proper reading material? Nothing related to classwork.
The more he read, the more interested he became in the world (and curiously enough, the more interesting he became himself). The more he read, the less shy he became in talking with other people. And the more ideas he exposed himself to, the more he had to share.
The writer has done her part. All you have to do is open the book and be open to what she has to say. Who knows, maybe you’ll have some words of your own to give.
Nich would leave for California in several hours, but not without some parting words and hugs for everyone. We didn’t know each other well, but he hugged me anyway and said: “Wesley, you are the most consistent person I’ve ever met.”
What’s that even supposed to mean? I never asked him, but eight months later I still remember this. Now I have to project my own meanings and interpretations onto his words. Is consistency a nice way of saying that you’re predictable? Boring? Or mature and emotionally stable? Is this too far back in the past to bring up in casual conversation?
Oh well. I may never know what he meant at that moment.
(Just a thought as I wait for the 202 bus to the grocery store in La Jolla Village Square)