“I really don’t like to read.”
That’s been my chorus for much of my adult life. Interesting, right, for one so deeply in love with words?
I’ve realized in the last few years though, that I’ve simply gotten out of the habit of reading. It’s hard for me. Not as a task, I’ve always been quite good at it, actually. But it’s hard for me to make it a priority, thus I assume I don’t like it. I don’t enjoy it enough to waste my time reading something I don’t love, something that doesn’t add value to my life, so I just don’t usually do it. I’ll read every Dan Brown book that comes out, and occasionally I’d pick up a John Grisham book before I had three kids, but only because I know those will always be worth my time. This is of course excepting The Da Vinci Code, but that’s a whole other series of posts.
When I start reading some things, I’m reminded how much I love it. I was, after all, the kid who skipped recess every day in third and fourth grade to “work” in my classroom library – and to read. (I was also captain of the cheerleading squad and dance teams in high school, so don’t put me in a certain box just yet ).
Lately, I’ve really been reading a bit again, mostly non-fiction. I stumbled across a blog post from a writer I had never read at the time, one Jeff Goins, and it was so compelling I immediately pre-purchased the book he was advertising in that post, The In-Between.
There are so many gems in this spiritual memoir. Jeff argues whether God is most concerned about exactly what we’re doing, or with who we’re becoming during the journey. He realizes that “when we think we are standing still, we are often growing the most” (p158), changing with each passing day and moment. He addresses finding (or becoming) a calling, and the “shadow careers” we chase along the way. How busyness robs us of today’s joy. All of this reflection is spliced with stories that make the reader laugh, cry and smile along the way.
I’ll be honest though, as always. When I first finished the book, I thought to myself, “That was pretty good. Not life-changing or revolutionary, but a good read. Some nice reminders.” Now don’t get me wrong – Jeff’s writing is stupendous. He writes in such a way that is romantic and full of description, yet conversational enough to read quickly and comfortably. Stories from childhood are seamlessly integrated with those more recent, and with his own thoughts on life. His stories were worth his telling, and I dog-eared and highlighted dozens of pages and one-liners. In fact, the first time I started the book I stopped because I needed to be somewhere I could either write in the book or tweet about it But when I finished it, I closed it and moved on, intending to write a nice review someday and otherwise not think much about it.
Yesterday morning though, I changed my mind – and finally got around to starting this review. Our morning was hurried, and yet two moments struck a chord with me that at first glance aren’t really even worth writing much about. First I stood outside freezing while my 6-month-old puppy took an excessive amount of time looking for just the right place to poop, and noticed something beautiful. We recently moved from the middle of nowhere to our favorite suburb, just 5-10 minutes from everything we do and love. And yet there in my backyard, I realized the early morning sky showed me all of the stars brilliantly as if we were out in the country. How had I not noticed this all summer? Why did I wait until we were running late for school and I was turning into an icicle? Still, I paused a few moments to look around and make a mental note for some backyard sleeping bag time with the kids next summer.
Then on the way to school, my 5-year-old daughters (loudly) serenaded their beloved 18-month-old brother with the silliest versions of his favorite songs I’ve ever heard. I’ll be the first to admit that sometimes, especially on mornings that have been particularly rough, this can drive me crazy. For whatever reason though, I was just reminded that these are the moments of which our lives are made. These things – the seconds, minutes, hours spent with family between vacations and milestones are things of beauty, just as much or more than places we saw on our recent cruise. I struggle with that, and couldn’t help but bring to mind Jeff’s words over and over yesterday.
“I want to live a life… that takes time to notice the things that other people are overlooking.”
So perhaps, in a bit of irony, The In-Between snuck in subtly and changed my world without fanfare. Maybe that was Jeff’s plan all along.
Disclosure: I paid for my copy of The In-Between and, though I’ve since met Jeff, attended a writer’s workshop with him at the Start Conference, etc, I always share my honest opinions around here. Just thought I’d throw that out there.
What timing! Today, you can download a copy of the book here for free, in exchange for an honest review on Amazon. After the link expires, it’s available in bookstores and on amazon (including a kindle version), and still worth the $8 or so. If you read it – or have already read it – tell me what you think!