The Time I Was Dying Inside

 

“If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.” ― Stephen King

I didn’t read any books this past year. It’s not like I didn’t try, but for some reason I couldn’t get into it. I have no excuses why I this happened — it just did. Maybe it was my struggle with depression and anxiety as I recovered from my heart attacks and life changes as a result of my health issues.

My mind couldn’t focus and I was unmotivated with life. At first I thought this might be a side effect from having three heart attacks. My cardiologist told me I might experience short-term memory loss, but I knew this feeling was different — as if something was missing from my life.

SOMETHING HAPPENED.

I stopped dreaming and growing as a person. My brain turned to mush, and I was dying on the inside and I didn’t realize it. My light dimmed and my world shrunk — not to mention my interaction with people was becoming non-existent.

Isolation might seem like a great idea, but it only leads to loneliness and death. It’s not that things were bad. I had become an owner a coffeehouse, and I had other exciting things on the horizon. I was in a good place — my walk with God was never better, and my family was doing well.

Or so it seemed. Something wasn’t right — I was feeling out of kilter. I lacked vision for my life, and I couldn’t focus on story — any story. I felt empty and lost.

BUT THEN THINGS CHANGED…

I went with my family and some friends to go watch the movie IT. Something from that movie gave me the desire to write again. But I had a problem — I had nothing to say. One day I went through some of my old writings. I found a quote from many years ago on the importance for writers to read.

“Read, read, read. Read everything — trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You’ll absorb it. Then write. If it’s good, you’ll find out. If it’s not, throw it out of the window.” ― William Faulkner

I read somewhere once that three things can be found in any culture or people group — Math, Song, and Story. I am terrible at math, I can’t carry a tune, but I love a good story. I knew it was time to break my hiatus from reading — if you recall, reading a book had been absent from my life for over a year.

I picked up a book and read. The fog lifted and I could dream again. I started writing again and explored new writing forms like poetry and memoir. My antidote — the story flowing from the pages of the book. I got a renewed vigor for story, and life became challenging, exciting, and adventurous all over again. I was no longer dying inside.

Here’s a challenge to keep your brain from turning to mush:

  • Pick three books you’d have with you if you were on a deserted island and re-read them every year.
  • Find an author way smarter than you and read everything they have ever written.
  • Make it a goal to read one new-to-you author every year.
  • At least do one of the three listed above.

My CURRENT READING LIST:

On Writing: Memoir of the Craft | Stephen King

The Light is Winning: Why Religion Might Bring Us Back To Life | Zach Hoag

The Complete Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway: The Finca Vigia Edition | Ernest Hemingway

Pictures from Brueghel and Other Poems | William Carlos Williams

Keep reading and creating!

Joe