📣 This blog post is sponsored by Tall Pines Conservancy. Support their mission to protect farmland, water, and open spaces by registering for their upcoming annual fundraiser, Ride to the Barns, taking place on August 14th!
Recently, I came across a really interesting image/meme/whatever you call it these days, and it made me think...
🤔 It made me reflect on where I am, where I'm going, and where I've came. While the focus is more specific to the context of reading, it also has more broad, big picture implications. Upon seeing the image, it made me realize that the reader's journey is just like any type of journey we embark upon—tumultuous, bumpy, uneven, and winding.
Alright, alright, because I can hear you screaming, what is the image?!?!, here's what I'm talking about:
It's appropriately titled, Stages of the Reader, and what Grant Snider has shown is not only (1) important, but also (2) hopeful. Important because it's honest, recognizing the fact that reading, like any hobby, is cyclical—interest in it waxes and wanes. And, hopeful in reinforcing the fact that it is an activity that can be re-inserted in someone's life at any time, lifting them out of a glossed-over existence.
As I write this, and as has been the case over the past few years, I find myself at Stage 7. To put it briefly, I got here like many do. I lost interest in reading as middle and high school rolled around, where social interaction and TV took firm hold of my attention. I went off to college, and to be honest, reading anything but a textbook was never even a thought. Yet, after graduating, I learned it was the best way to continue my education and reach my goals. I wrote a blog post about my reading journey a while back...read it here.
Now, as you may imagine, these reading stages are each a small journey themselves within the grander reader's journey. For me, Stage 7 has been interspersed with months where I finished a book a week and (more) months in which I read just 1-2 books. And, some months (though, admittedly very few...), zero books. Things happen. Life gets in the way. Interest wanes.
Though not experiencing it now, the specific stage of the image above I want to spend some time unwrapping is Stage 6. Why? Well, for one reason and one reason only...
❌ No one should be here.
...at least not forever. Yet, Stage 6 is probably the easiest place to be, characterized by its near ground-level status in the step-like reader's journey. So, how do we make the steep climb out of the perhaps comfortable, but definitely dingy Stage 6 hole and up to Stage 7—where we know we really should be, reading to expand our knowledge and feed our minds and imagination?
Doing so may be as simple as asking yourself the following...
How is my life now without books? What could my life be like if I read more?
My stress levels may decrease, I could feel sharper day in and day out, I could sleep better, I could advance my career, I could build more empathy, I could feed my creative side, I could augment my vocabulary, I could grow smarter, I could use this momentum to feed other areas of my life, heck I could even live longer! The list goes on, and is personal to you.
With the reasons to escape the Stage 6 hole clear, so begins the climb. Contrary to what you may think, with the vision of your better life acting as the wind beneath your metaphorical sails, the ascent can be accomplished by doing one rather simple thing...
Picking up a book and starting.
It's how I did it. Someone who completely abandoned books from the time he was 12 years old until he was staring down 23. I spent roughly ten years in the Stage 6 hole. Even after all of that time and an ever-deepening canyon, climbing out was easy with a strong vision in place. And, doing so even led me to start up a little business, but that's a different story. 😉
Now, I know that just because it worked for me doesn't mean it will work for everyone. But, if you find yourself in Stage 6 and are craving the immaculate vibes in Stage 7, could it hurt to try this process out? It really is a simple exercise...compare the two life paths in front of you, then, if it's what you feel is right, find just one book to read and get started. The rest should take care of itself.
See your vision come to life.
Of course, there will be droughts (and floods) along your journey. I'd even consider myself to be experiencing a drought right now, not reading much lately due to...well, many reasons. But, during these times when you're feeling a bit removed from reading, take the break you need and think back to your answer to the ever-important question:
What could my life be like if I read more?
Then back in the saddle we go, in pursuit of what's better.
To wrap this up, we've talked a lot about just one stage of the reader's journey and how to escape it. But, what number are you? What stage are you currently experiencing? What is it like? What has the journey within the journey been like for you?
👇 Comment below and let's start a conversation!