The Futility of Our Favourite Things

Reading has started to feel episodic. The more I read, the more I find myself wondering what I am trying to accomplish. Betterment? Personal satisfaction? Knowledge? These things are infinite, so am I not scrambling for something eternally out of my grasp?

A large part of my reading is based on a lingering fear I am not as smart or as competent as I come across. I was a mediocre student and I struggled through most of my schooling. Despite how far I have come, this is one thing I cannot seem to shrug off. I wonder if the reason I read so much is to remind, and in my darker moments convince, myself I am not stupid.

In high school I had to wake up earlier and study to just pull ahead. I almost did not graduate from university. I wasted two years alternately swotting and hoping for some kind of miracle, wishing I did not have to kill myself to achieve what seemed like an easy-enough milestone. Hope and wishes, however, do not stop the world from turning.

I have recently stepped outside my comfort zone by taking up Matthew Riley’s Temple. It is the kind of mindless fast-paced action that perfectly balances the heavy stuff I had set for myself. I have been in thrall, as though ensorcelled. I feel a bit guilty for enjoying something unserious this much. I am also catching up with movies and television.

While I am waiting for new seasons of Narcos and Mr Robot, I am watching UnReal. I am tempted to watch Queen Sugar. I would like to read the book first and I realize what I am doing: still reaching. At some point in my life, books took on a mystical power so much so watching TV came with feelings of shame. I was wasting my time when I could have been taking in the world and engaging with it at a more meaningful level.

Perhaps these breaks from routine will offer respite from the vagaries and burdens of books and my niggling sense of not-enoughness.


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