All my life, I’ve suffered from a rare and incurable condition. It isn’t terminal, thank heavens, so it isn’t what you might call a "high profile" affliction. You won’t find it on milk cartons or in the public service announcements that air during the Super Bowl. But there are a few famous people who suffer from it, so you might have heard of it. Hermione, for example–you know, Harry Potter’s friend–presents a classic case.
Cumpulsio Literosa, she would call it: the compulsive inability to stop reading.
I come by it honestly. My parents are both avid readers, although my Aunt Dorry suffers from an even more acute case. I knew it when I was just a little girl and caught my beloved aunt reading the cereal box at the breakfast table. I mean the whole cereal box. So at least I’m not alone.
There are advantages. My mother, for example, shared this laugh with me today, gleaned from a sign she read on the back of a garbage truck: "Our Service Is Excellent. Satisfaction Guaranteed… or Twice Your Garbage Back!"
And there are disadvantages.
One of the biggest drawbacks is that the art of "skimming" literary passages–and I use the word literary in the broadest possible sense, meaning all things written–has always eluded me. This was a real problem in law school. It’s almost impossible to read every word of every case assigned, especially when you include the footnotes.
Almost, but not quite. It turns out you can do it if you cut your sleep down to two daily shifts of four hours each: from 2:00 AM to 6:00 AM and then from 2:00 PM to 6:00 PM.
But I wouldn’t recommend it.
There’s also the problem of interpersonal communication. I understand that most people don’t read every word of everything. I really do get that. I just have trouble remembering it.
The concept has been explained to me a thousand times. People are busy. People try to save time by reading for the gist of things. I hear, but I don’t comprehend. Rushing through a sentence makes about as much sense to me as rushing through a vacation. How can you savor the words if you don’t take them all in?
So the process of writing this post began with an old but apparently as yet ungrasped learning experience on my part. Deliciously ironic, really. But I’m starting to feel like a bit of a dolt.
I’ve been intending for a month now to write in this learning forum about the current state of our educational system–both what it is and what it could be.
I’ve done a lot of reading (again, can’t help it) about joy and the human spirit and what brings joy to the soul. And what I read I try to implement, just to test the proof of it. Turns out there’s a lot of wisdom out there, and most of it isn’t that complicated.
So for this post I wanted to apply some of these basic truths to our educational system. After all, this wisdom has been around forever; we’ve just never applied it on a societal level, and I think it’s high time we did.
Then I thought how great it would be if other bloggers contributed to the post by sharing their own principles of joyful living. I figured I could apply all those principles to our educational system at once, outlining a new system based on the joys of the human spirit. Great idea, right?
Only it didn’t work out that way.
Problem # 1: I thought of asking other bloggers for their input about two days ago. (Doh!)
Problem # 2: I asked people to send me whatever came to mind about "WISDOM … what
thoughts or modes of being move you into a place of peace, calm, joy,
self-love, inner happiness."
Maybe the problem was capitalizing "wisdom." That was probably it. But the long parenthetical phrase represented by the ellipsis didn’t help either. I was looking for people’s wisdom about life and being happy. What I got were people’s thoughts on wisdom itself.
How do I know the communication problem was on my end? Because every answer I received outlined the author’s thoughts on wisdom. When everyone misinterprets what you say, chances are pretty good that the problem lies in how you’re saying it.
Discovering my mistake, I rephrased the question, so a couple of these later responses were right on the money. But there just wasn’t enough time left to get everyone on board. My bad, and my sincere apologies.
So note to self (lesson learned): in making requests, be succinct, and for God’s sake don’t capitalize anything unless you really, really mean it.
Since I didn’t get to write the article I had intended to write, here are a few posts on joyful learning and the educational system, just to whet your appetite:
As for my fellow Cumpulsio Literosa sufferers who read every last word of this post, you have my deepest sympathies, and, as always…
My eternal gratitude,