Monday, May 7, 2012

Guest Post: When Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder.

Meet my friend Nicole in her own words is a female geek, reader, writer, teacher, mathematician, creative, wife, sister, daughter, dog- fish - & gecko owner, Earth lover, Mets fan, movie fan, Mac chick. Google addict, half-blind, looking for a cure to PTC/IIH or Crohn's Disease and oh, so much more.

What if you couldn't read anymore?

I want you to really think about that for a moment.

No printed word, no words on a screen, just no more reading at all. Let's say you were losing your vision, or that it was already lost and this was your new reality.

What would you do? What would you feel? What would you begin to miss?

This happened to me. First there were headaches that made reading painful, which I thought would eventually go away, then came the frightening reality that my optic nerves were damaged, perhaps never to be returned to their former glory (HA! They were always a myopic mess!). Due to a rare disease, I was faced with two solid years of no reading for pleasure and one of those years (when I finally left my work as a math teacher) absolutely no reading at all.

I clambered on to audiobooks, a long forgotten path to tales. When he had the time, my wonderful husband read aloud to me. In the interim I thought back to all of the time wasted without my books. How many times had I watched some inane reality show instead of picking up a book? How many times was I stuck waiting on a line somewhere daydreaming or playing with my iPhone when I could have been reading? How many sleepless nights did I lay awake because I didn't have the sense to take a journey to some other place as I decompressed from my stressful day?

I mourned my loss and prayed for a second chance. The doctors said I might get some of my vision back, so I hoped. I forced myself to get on the computer and, no matter how much I had to zoom the screen, I looked at words. I ordered an eBook and read slower than I ever had in my life. It was painful, but I had finally come to know that this was worth fighting for.

"She's a reader," I'd often hear my parents say to other adults when I was a child. At the time I imagined it was some nice way to cover up my irrevocable shyness. I hadn't realized how much of my identity it actually was.

I am a reader.

For a number of years I had the worse mid-life crisis one can imagine: I physically lost the ability to read. As I have fought my way back, I have come to cherish this special part of me that I allowed to lay dormant for far to long: the reader in me has risen and she now dotes on her precious words. While I still have my computer screen on super-zoom and I honestly can not live without audiobooks, in between, I challenge myself with "real" print.

Now, when with others, I can't help but speak of books. I can't help but be the voice for the lost loves. I remember "not having the time" for reading or "being too tired" to pick up a book - life is tricky that way, steering you away from the one thing that may actually give you some reprieve; but what helps is to remember long before that was ever a thought in your mind. What helps is to think of your first book love. Those of us who are readers, enjoyed the escape into the pages with every turn, but almost every person can remember the first book that swept them off their feet. When I engage others in a conversation about this particular book from their past, no matter how busy they are, the nostalgic taste of the euphoria of reading returns. They smile. They remember. They wonder at the magic of that first book. Suddenly... reading feels really important again.

At the beginning of this post I asked you to imagine a nightmare, now I want you to remember the dream. What was your first book love? Dwell on that thought for a while. Let it simmer. Then stir it up. Next time you are reaching for the remote control, or you are feeling skewered by the day you just had, I suggest you to reach for a book - it might be a little painful, it might be a challenge to fit it into your busy day, but please don't forget that reading is a joy worth fighting for.

You can read more of Nicole's post at River Runs Through It and follow her on twitter.


  1. I love this post by Nichole. Thanks for having her as a guest. I've never thought about if I lost the ability to read. I'd lose my livelihood. I would not be able to drive anywhere new. It would be aweful.

    The thing I love most about this post is how your hubby would read to you. It is the little acts of love like that that I look forward to one day experiencing.

    As for your question. The first book I loved I loved before I could ever read it. My parents read it to me. It was Chippy Goes to the Dentest. By the time I was albe to read it I'd had it memorized :-)

  2. Your point really hits home for me, that there are some things we take for granted that we have to fight for. Thank you for sharing your story.

    I am really glad to have met you Nicole! See you at Storydam later.

  3. What a wonderful and inspiring post! I honestly don't read books much, I have ADD and it is very difficult for me to get through even the first chapter. I do however read a lot of stuff online. I don't know why it's easier for me to do that than it is to read a book. I think it's more about not being into fiction, because I have read books and have enjoyed them. I tend to be more into biographies or books about history. So, I guess I do love to read, it just depends on what it is. I know it would be horrible if I wasn't able to read at all anymore. I love reading blogs especially inspirational posts such as this one.


  4. Reading is one of my favorite things and I would feel horrible if I couldn't do it anymore. I can't even imagine it. Thanks for sharing your experience.



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