My week of reading deprivation ended on Tuesday night and while parts of it didn’t seem so bad (staying off social media for the week), there were other things that were so so hard, particularly when it came to no reading. The ban which is part of Week 4 of The Artist’s Way, a 12 week course in finding your higher creativity, included not only reading but television, YouTube, podcasts, visiting web sites, Netflix, movies – virtually anything that included being exposed to someone else’s ideas. I was able to listen to music, although I kept that to instrumental pieces and it was truly a godsend.
The first couple of days of the detox were productive. I did some major clearing and de-cluttering getting rid of a lot of stuff that was collecting dust and no longer useful to us. It felt great and I listened to music as I went along. It wasn’t until my head was ready to hit the pillow in the evenings that I felt a yearning for a book. Part of the instructions allowed for reading only The Artist’s Way so I ended up re-reading the chapter I was working on a few times just to exercise my reading muscle. Also on day two of my clear out, I discovered some of my old journals and decided to re-read them, something I rarely do. I’m not a big fan of revisiting my past writing for some reason!
The reading deprivation started on Wednesday morning and by the weekend I was over my decluttering phase and was yearning for a book to pass some time. I think being unemployed plays into why I struggled with the ban because I am at home on my own most of the day and that’s a lot of time to fill. I managed to get out of the house most days but any trips to the store were not very much fun because when you are throwing things out and decluttering, the idea of bringing more stuff into your home is not exactly appealing! On Friday afternoon, I was inspired to make a trip to a local garden center and that was a perfect way to spend a chilly afternoon. Their gift shop had truly unique items and I ended up purchasing a couple of things for my newly cleared artist’s space that are small but inspiring to look at as I work on my writing.
Something that came from my time away from reading and my phone is the mindfulness of being present wherever I was. There are some activities like Taekwondo that I’m in waiting mode and these are perfect times for reading so as I got ready to take him last week I wondered what I could do while he was at class. I grabbed a journal to do some writing as I waited and as I sat in the Dojang ready to pull it out, it occurred to me I could WATCH my son and his black belt class do their thing. And that’s what I did. I am always reading during his class, looking up occasionally to make sure he’s working hard. But this time I got to witness how hard they work all of class. I couldn’t do what they do for 45 minutes straight!
Eating is also another time I reach for a book. I usually eat lunch at home on my own so I’ll sit in a particular spot at the table facing the interior of the kitchen and will read or watch Netflix while I’m eating. Instead, I chose a seat facing the window and mindfully ate and looked at the view I don’t always get to see. I’m reminded how important it is to be mindful of what we are eating.
Over the weekend my husband was away and there was a temptation to cheat and take my son to see a movie. To get us both out of the house, I suggested a trip to Dave & Busters, something we hadn’t done in ages and afterward we walked over toward the theater but fortunately there was nothing we were interested in seeing and we went back home, the media ban in tact.
By the end of the week, I wasn’t enjoying the ban at all. I wanted interaction on Twitter or at least a book. I ended up completing a 1000 piece puzzle of the London landmarks in record time. And then I found a puzzle I hadn’t opened yet and did that one too. Did I lose my creativity in how to use my spare time during the ban? Yes, I think I did. I was thrilled to have 10 p.m. Tuesday evening roll around so I could pick up the book I was halfway through when the ban began. I’m very happy it’s over but I learned some things along the way.