Some thoughts on thinking.

It’s not very often that I use this blog to write a big long post about What I Think. This is partly because I don’t have a lot of time, partly because I’m lazy and don’t want to take the trouble, partly because I’m afraid I’m wrong and wiser people will laugh at me, and partly because I know that various students and school folk read this blog and I worry  that it wouldn’t be prudent for everyone to know their teacher’s wife’s thoughts.

Lately, however, I have been feeling as though I need to make myself think more in general, and about better things. When you spend most of your time dealing with very young humans, it can be easy to slide by on the bare minimum and have a thought life mostly concerned with food, cleaning, shopping, and Duplos. (And some days are just going to be like that, no matter how elevated you want to be.) The problem is, this doesn’t make very good grounds for conversation with a husband who reads all sorts of good and challenging books and has a very interesting thought life. Or with your friends and family, for that matter. When someone asks, “Did anything exciting happen to you today?” it’s disappointing to find that the culmination of your precious free time was catching up on the blogs of people you don’t know and finding a cute striped backpack for $24.

The problem isn’t that I don’t read anything, it’s that what I read is almost exclusively on the internet. I used to be a big craft & design blog follower, partly because it gave me what I thought were good ideas and partly because it was fun to be on top of the trends for once. Ever since I was in high school and first became aware that I had no idea what clothes were cool or what music was new, I have wanted to be on top of something. However, I found that in the end these blogs just ate up a lot of my time without really affecting my life. Knowing what great choices are currently available in $2000 sofas is really pretty useless in day-to-day living on a teacher’s budget. I also realized that a steady stream of enviable photos of other people’s houses did, in fact, make me envy and that I just needed to cut back. So I did. But over time, a few more stops got added to my daily internet route. I still follow 2 or 3 design blogs and have added a few more lifestyle bloggers whose writing and taste I enjoy. Oh, and then I added in some baby sales websites that have tempted me more than once to make purchases a bit out of my budget. And facebook. And then there’s Pinterest, which is simultaneously an awesome place to keep visual bookmarks and a massive black hole that wants to suck up all your free time.

When I add it all up, the sum of time I spend on the internet while nursing the babe can be regrettably high and not really very satisfying. Sometimes I’m looking for ideas for a specific project and looking leads to doing, but more often then not I’m just looking and wanting and those words and images end up going nowhere. It’s like flipping through Vogue all the time when you know that you can’t afford a single thing advertised. So then, why do it? I like to think that “getting inspiration” justifies a lot of internet gawking, but if I’m not actually inspired to do anything, what difference has it made?

Now that I have a bonafide toddler, I realize that I forgot how much kids love candy. Camilla loooooves sweets. And if sweets are present in the vicinity of dinner, the grilled chicken and vegetables just don’t look appetizing anymore. Pretty much every time I want to correct Camilla for some shortcoming in her little life, I realize that I have a grownup version that I don’t want to extinguish. Do you want to eat jelly beans instead of green beans? Well, mama would like to read a blog instead of beginning St. Augustine’s Confessions. Do you want that Hello Kitty backpack at Target? Mama’s not going to get it for you, but she will make you sit patiently in the cart while she peruses the clothing & shoes. The other day I read a friend’s facebook update about how upset she is with her children’s obsession with toys. We’re not quite to that stage yet, but I’m sure we will be in a year or two and I realized that if I am going to ask Camilla to temper her materialism and desire for more, I had better not be spending all my free time looking for new shirts.

Anyhow, all of these thoughts and observations have combined into the realization that I need new reading material. Husband puts it quite succinctly: “Read more old books.” Since I enjoy having my hands free to do a small project at the same time, I think I might also try good podcasts (I love Ancient Faith Radio and need to get back in touch with This American Life) and there are quite a few free audiobooks available online. I listened to Frankenstein that way last year when husband was teaching it in class and really enjoyed it. Got a lot of knitting done, too.

So my new, small, practical goal (i.e. the best kind of goal in my life right now) is to check email and facebook everyday but only look at blogs two or three times a week. And when I’m coasting around the internet, it needs to be because I’m looking for something in particular (i.e. kimono onesies for an ever-growing babe) and I need to do my best not to go down those time-sucking rabbit trails.

Any suggestions for good quality reading or listening material that you want to send my way?


12 thoughts on “Some thoughts on thinking.

  1. I will restate my suggestion about the How Stuff Works podcasts. Especiially Stuff You Missed In History Class. Perhaps you’ll even be able to teach Josh a thing or two he missed.
    And do you realize your comment box the charcoal greay and the text is black? It’s impossible to see what I’m typing.

    • Oo, I forgot about those. I will try them out. Sorry about the comment box — I can’t control much about this template, but it’s the only one WordPress currently offers that has the same photo size as my original template, which they stopped providing. If I change to anything else I will need to go back and resize every individual photo link to my flickr page and that would obviously suck.

  2. I love your thoughtful posts. They are always so applicable to my life as well. This might sound like “candy” reading compared to Augustine’s confessions, but I LOVE biographies of the saints. We went through a month or two in the spring where we seemed to never make it to small group or church due to waves of illness and I came out of it amazingly un-depressed because I was so encouraged by reading about God’s work in other people’s lives. Plus they’re just fun to read — there’s usually a good story involved :)

  3. I’ve been picking up audio books online and listening to them throughout the day while I work. Sometimes the kids come in and look at books or color, but for the most part I listen while they play outside. Right now I’m listening to Ivanhoe, and there’s a whole lot more out there – Shakespeare’s plays, Austen, even the Harry Potter books if you want something fun. I’m hoping to get the Narnia books next time and require the kids to sit and listen!

  4. I’ve had the same waves coming into my brain lately too. Though I’m not as busy as you. I’m just reading a book that I’m finding helpful. Keeping House: the Litany of Everyday Life. I will be happy to send it to you when I’m done. I have been down the design rabbit hole trying to decorate our house, and here’s what my book said to me 30 minutes after reading your post: “People need homes. They don’t need fantasies of luxury but the realities of place and nurturance and security.” And this lady has a really great, realistic approach to not having a perfect house, but realizing the value in what we are called to be and do.

    Thanks for your thoughts!

  5. LIfe is just full of soooo many choices. Not to sound morbid, but have you ever imagined yourself laying on your death bed? Will you be thinking…I wish I’d… read or listened to more books? …left behind a masterpiece?…had more intellectual conversations?…been more present with my children?…decorated my home better?…danced in the moonlight?…drove a sports car?…watched a complete sunset?…been a good example?…and on and on. Our precious life energy…what do we really want to do with it?

  6. Thanks for the suggestions, all! I’ve listened to a few podcasts and want to start The Ladder of Divine Ascent by St. John Climacus if I can find it online. But Confessions is also on the list (thanks, John).

  7. Marian told me to read your blog because it was great, and I agree– it is great. No matter what age you are, thought life needs direction and control. You’ll find out (not that you haven’t already) that your thought life is foundational to every one else’s thought life in your family. There are times when I’ve felt that was unfair, to be so important, but it’s just the way things are. God is talking to you and through you. I love you so much, Mom

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s