Victoria Jackson rediscovers the simple joys of a good sit down and a nice book
As a young child, I was a late starter in reading. I was — and my mum still does not let me forget — one of the worst in my class at primary school. Fortunately, it didn’t stay that way for long and once I got going I had to be coaxed to put my book down rather than reading through mealtimes and past my bedtime. Story books were so exciting and all-absorbing!
Fast forward to my adult life and my reading habits have changed a lot. Not just fewer thrilling, page-turning adventure stories, but less page-turning full stop. Nowadays a lot of my reading is done online or on a digital device. I just don’t often turn the pages of a physical book. Recently, though, I’ve rediscovered the joy of books. I bought a new publication, something on the power of stillness and silence in our modern lives. It’s a book that deserves to be a physical object: it has quirky illustrations, a shiny hard cover, and the paper quality is reassuringly thick. I have loved settling down on the sofa with a hot drink for a hour or so of old-fashioned reading each evening.
I also have a notepad to hand (oddly I never gave up my old-fashioned fountain pen habit!) and every now and then I jot down a thought or a phrase which I might weave into my next restorative yoga class.
One of the practices advocated in the book was simply to sit regularly. Not ‘sit’ in the sense of formal meditation, just common or garden sitting. Doing nothing but allowing the eyes and mind to wander, taking in the passing scene on the inside and the outside, in one’s mind and in the outer environment. So, periodically, I pause my reading, put the book down and stare out of the window, vaguely mulling over what I’ve just read, but also allowing my mind to drift here and there as it naturally does — what I will make for lunch, if I hang the washing out will that cause it to rain, memories of a favourite sweater I had as a child… Oh, this is much easier than a meditation ‘sit’ for sure! And allowing my mind to wander like this is also much easier than concentrating on the book itself. But I’m sure the author would approve if I don’t actually finish reading it. Their job is done — I’ve learned how to sit in the quietness of my own company and to enjoy it!