Sat on a park bench with a friend, listening to the river rush past, these are all the topics our conversation touched upon.
At one point, we were talking about communicating. He’s older and has endured adversity that many can only imagine. He said something like this to me:
“That’s why you can understand me.” He brings his hand down to his hip and then raises it above his head. “Because you’ve read a lot of books that have taken your consciousness from here to here.”
My instant reaction was to feel affronted. It’s not just books. I’m smart. I’m intelligent. I’ve done a lot and been in some challenging situations.
But the more I thought about this, the more I realised that was just my ego reacting. I’m no smarter than many people I know. But I am more willing to learn and evolve. I’m more open.
And that’s a direct consequence of reading.
Which is why, over this last week, I’ve begun to accept something.
Reading is like a cheat code for life.
Think about it.
By reading, I can discover the secrets of the world and human existence that took decades to figure out. I can engage some of the greatest minds in debate and conversation.
By reading, I can learn to learn. I can discover how little I know. I can see how to better communicate, how to think, how to tell stories and how to see through them.
By reading, I can see examples of intellectual courage. I can witness individuals confronting the biggest, scariest, most complex ideas. And I can hear tales of physical courage. People fighting for their freedom and their rights.
What else can give you all that and more?
What other activity can drag you up from the gutter and transform you into a beautiful, balanced person?
What other exercise can give you so many advantages at so little cost of time and money?