I’d always thought I could find the answer in books.
So I read. I read, and read, and read. I read things far from each other, from The Bodhisattva Warriors to Think and Grow Rich to Howl and Other Poems.
But no matter how many books I finished, there would always be more to read. A new breakthrough title, or an old unearthed classic. My obsession with “catching them all” swelled into overwhelming anxiety; a feeling that there was so much more I wanted to read than I had time for.
That was it, really. There is more I want to read in this life than I would ever have time for — and it would be this way, always. I could chase my wish list to the end of my days and still be left unsatisfied.
The day I accepted this, I felt my stress dissolve, and one thing become clear: Somewhere, I had confused knowing something with doing something.
Reading had become a way to cocoon myself from the world, research had become a way to retreat from action and protect myself from risk. I thought that if I only found the “secret” to life in those books, I could finally find fulfilment and success. But there were no secrets in the end.
There is nothing wrong with reading. To go that other extreme would be another mistake. But I’d confused the search for wisdom with the accumulation of information. While we magnify ourselves with more knowing, the tools for wisdom — the capacity to think, reflect, plan and act — lie innate in every person, and are not the privilege of the well-read.
There are countless wise people in the history of the world who have never read a single book.
What I’ve come to understand is this: There comes a time when you must close all books, and write.
Write the story of your life with your actions, weave the chapters of your life with your thoughts, and dance in the spaces given you between the sentences. Write your book, and make it one you’ll love to read for the rest of your life.