….it just might exist


I don’t read, I consume.

Every time I sit down with a book or a magazine or newspaper, I read as if words are food and I haven’t eaten in a week. Hold on, there is something disturbing about that.

Sometimes when I want to sit and chill with a book….you know, just sink into a cushy chair and lose myself in the story….I can’t. I’ve tried! And it’s super annoying. I wish I could be in the moment and let the world’s infinite waterfall of words shower over me and hydrate my literary pores…but I can’t! I see people doing it: my wife does it, my children do it…those strangely familiar coffee drinkers at Barnes and Noble do it…and they all look so content, so fulfilled! I don’t smile, I don’t frown, I don’t laugh, I don’t cry….I just…explicate! That gene that allows us to sit and chill with a book, I don’t think I have it. I wish I did. I’ve got the analytical gene, and it demands I comprehend the subtext and figurative language of everything I read. I tend to look for it all – every nook and cranny of meaning and technique – instead of trusting and feeling that it’s all there. Argh! I’m doing it all wrong!

I’m depressed now.

Image result for piles of booksOK…shake it off, Freedman. There has to be some good in how I read. I mean, I still love the act of reading….I must, I do it all the time. If I didn’t like to read the way I read I wouldn’t be teaching English! There’s something so awesome about looking at a piece of literature and seeing the blueprints and the nuts and bolts of another individual’s creation. It’s empowering…like a superpower.

I just realized what it’s like: it’s like that last scene in The Matrix when Neo, the protagonist, finally sees the coded truth of the construct in which he’s been living. In this moment he is liberated….set free by the restrictions of lies….he’s liberated by the truth. All those green vertical lines of code are the truth…like the horizontal lines  of text I so effortlessly deliberate over.

Image result for neoHoly *&#!, I’m Neo! That’s it. I am Neo in a black overcoat fighting assassin computer programs, except I am short and bald…and an English teacher.

That’s how I read.

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