Why did I destroy a perfectly good book today? Actually more than good – Murukami never disappoints. Kafka on the Shore isn’t in quite the same league as The Windup Bird Chronicle – but it is a damn fine book.
Did I burn it? No.
Did I rip out the pages and make airplanes? No.
Did I dog-ear my stopping places? No.
What I did was far worse than all that. I read it like email, like a corporate report, like history homework. I raced through it at the pace of our modern life.
At this speed I grasped the most basic meaning and shot on to the next passage without pausing to reflect on the poetry in the words, the river of metaphors (and this book flows deep with them), or even a lot of the humor.
I know better. Art takes time. I got the nub but left the best parts on the page.
This breakneck pace is a survival skill for coping with the onslaught of information we face every day. But when we let that be our only mode of consuming information we skate across the surface of the modern world without ever nourishing ourselves from the deep well of art. We are like boaters in the middle of a lake who are dying of thirst because we are bailing our boat out all day long. We are swamped in words.
In my book, any list of 21st Century Skills that doesn’t include learning to read/see/hear for deep pleasure is incomplete.
Here is a simple challenge that will take 10 minutes a day for 10 days. Read a poem, then take 5 minutes to just sit and think about it. Go back over the words. See how it all connects. Feel the dreamlike connection of concepts, words, and emotions that arise from the flow. Is it hard and shiny like a diamond or rough and splintery like old wood? Did you even like it?
After doing this see if you are taking this reflective perspective with you into your workaday world. If it works (and it may not) then spend some time thinking about how you would teach this skill in the instructional products you create. Are you creating opportunities for deep reflection, or just skating over the surface of the standards and checking them off?
Or – rush on the to the next post you must consume!