I can be an anxious person and the past few weeks have been trying, to say the least. While considering how best to ensure that I didn't get bogged down with recent worries, it occurred to me just how important reading is to my general sense of well-being. Looking back, this has always been the case. During summer holidays, when the onset of six weeks without much to focus on made me feel unsteady, I would immerse myself in books. I would literally read myself well again.
There is something incredibly comforting about losing yourself in unique worlds. Sometimes it's the story that allows me the escape I'm looking for, sometimes it's what the author is saying that makes me feel less alone. Regardless, there is something organic about reading a book, that other forms of entertainment just don't provide.
At times when I have suffered with more severe bouts of anxiety, it has been the pages of a book which have helped direct my thoughts onto something constructive. Reading is active, engaging, and extremely rewarding.
While considering this, I realised just how bad I've felt at times in my life when I've watched a lot of television instead of reading.
We don't have a television in our house now. It's just not something we feel we need. If someone had told me this would be the case several years ago, I probably wouldn't have believed them, as beholden to television as I was then.
Now I love the freedom. If I have a spare ten minutes I open a book, rather than channel hop.
I've caught a couple of episodes of Charlie Brooker's How TV Ruined Your Life recently: the aspiration and romance episodes. His discerning eye and trademark cynical humour shed light on the many negative ways television has impacted the way we live.
Television is terribly passive. It masquerades as entertainment, as company for the lonely, but it only offers 'canned mutilated laughter' as Bukowski put it. It's hollow and vacuous and discourages independent thought. by feeding us the same stereotypes and accepted news reporting.
We live only one life, for better or worse, but reading gives us eyes into a multitude of other lives. It expands our horizons and makes you believe, albeit temporarily, that anything is possible.
So you can keep your TV sets. I'm getting back to my books.