A few years back a good friend of mine was sermonizing about what constitutes a full and enriching life. He’s probably one of the busiest people I have ever met, but always has time for his friends, whether it’s a school night or not. He’s also interminably happy, a wide smile is always stretched across his lovely, affable face, and he’s hungry to digest the full palate of life before him. So I was all ears of course. The first thing he told me I still hold high in my consciousness, because it really did strike a chord. I loved him even more when I found out the quote was from former US First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, who was a formidable force all on her very own. This is what she said: Great minds discuss ideas, Average minds discuss events, Small minds discuss people.
The quote I am sure resonates with many of us. It reminds us what will make us stand and grow tall with our thoughts, and on the other end of the scale, help us to understand the types of conversations that diminish our spirit. So where do we access ideas, when our lives are numbed with digital bombardment?. I’ve always though the greatest irony about all this super-speed and efficient technology was that it was meant to connect all humans on a great scale, yet in many ways it’s led to a disconnect with our family and friends, and most importantly ourselves. I’m referring to those of us who can’t stop checking our phones, our emails, our social media sites. For some of us, it reminds us that we are not alone, but how many truly meaningful exchanges does it encourage?.
I think holidays are always a very telling time because they show us some of the good habits we abandon when life gets in the way. This leads me to the another chapter of the sermon my good friend offered up, and that I personally have lapped up since. He said we should all try to read 10 books a year. This brings me back to holidays. Why is that we can read books in their entirety, and mindfully when we are on holidays, but why is this so difficult to continue when we return home?. The obvious answer is time and I get that.
During a holiday we switch off and we clear all extraneous thoughts, or at least we try to. That’s what they are designed for. So why, upon our return, do we struggle to switch off the television and phone a few hours earlier each night, and instead head to bed with a good book?. Maybe it’s because so many of us have the ability to fit so much in during a normal day, that it becomes near impossible to put those brakes on at night. We crave mind-numbing activities like the TV or surfing the net. But maybe we need to remember there is also a great freedom in escaping with a book, which potentially expands our horizons so much more.
I love visiting bookshops. I do it at least once a week. It’s a really grounding and fulfilling excursion for me. You’d be surprised how many others do exactly the same thing. Book shops are full of ideas. In their simplest form, they are texts from people from all shades of life who felt they had something important to impart to the world, who strive to inform, entertain and engage us.
Sometimes I don’t quite fill the quota of 10 books a year. Other years, I surpass it to my great surprise. It’s a piece of advice that’s truly enriched my life. It reminds me that I am a member of a vast global community. It reminds me to have an expansive mindset. It reminds me there is still so much to learn and so many points of view to consume. It reminds me I belong.