two open books, a shelf of books behind them

What Would I Do If I Didn’t Read?

 June 7, 2022

I’m on the elliptical at Planet Fitness chatting with a new friend. When she asked me what I did, I told her I was a writer. To which she replied, “Oh, I don’t read.”

I thought to myself, “Is that possible? How could someone not read?”

Now let me clarify. This is not someone who is illiterate. She ran her own small business before retiring. So, I know it isn’t a matter of her not being able to read, she just chooses not to.

Has There Ever Been a Time When I Didn’t Read?

I wonder, has there ever been a time when I didn’t read? I guess during my early years, before kindergarten, before I learned letters were more than scribblings on pages and that they could be strung together into words. After that, I was off and running as I explored new worlds.

I started with my brothers’ comic books which then led to a wide range of books. I’ve spent hours reading one book after another. In my youth, I’d finish one and pick up another without giving the first one time to digest. Then I would pile my bike basket with books, ride to the library and get more. I loved to read and I tried to instill that love into my children and now my grandchildren.

It never occurred to there was another way of being that didn’t include hours spent reading until that moment. You mean there are actually people out there who rarely if ever read books? Not in my family.

What Do You Do If You Don’t Read?

Clearly, anyone who didn’t read must be homeless or a drug addict, or a video addict? But here was this intelligent woman telling me she didn’t read. What did she do with her time? I suspect her home is spotless. Or, maybe she fills her home and her friends’ homes with crafts, lovingly designing unique gifts. And she works out, almost every day. She didn’t strike me as someone who spent hours watching TV shows, soap operas or endless cat videos on her phone.

Then I thought, what would I do if I didn’t read? How would I fill the time? You mean there could actually be an existence for me that didn’t include reading every day?

What Would I Do If I Didn’t Read?

The idea intrigued me. What would I do? Maybe I would have more actual adventures rather than ones I experience through reading. Maybe my house would be cleaner and I would be healthier. No more sitting for hours at a time. Maybe I would make all of those healthy yet tasty meals because I would know how to season them and would find new and exotic ways to prepare vegetables. I might even grow my own herbs. Maybe I would take up yoga again and go to the gym daily instead of just two or three times a week.

And then I turn on my computer or open emails on my cell phone. I see yet more articles I just have to read and books I just have to read and there I go … down the pleasant rabbit hole of reading.

I guess there can be a world without reading. But if so, I don’t want to live there.

What about you? How do you fill your days?

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