If an alien came to earth to do field work, she/he/it would immediately think we were all stupid beyond belief. If she looked at the books that are out there, the talks on TED and all the other things, that NEVER STOP TELLING PEOPLE HOW TO LIVE, she would beam back up to the Mother Ship and tell the crew, “These animals aren’t worth researching. How about looking at mice? They seem smarter. Mushrooms?”
Having been around since the just after the dinosaurs looked up and said, “Oh, no. It’s coming right at us. Duck,” I can only assume that people have become not only more unable to think for themselves, but apparently they can’t live without someone telling them what to do.
I’m thinking the wagons moving west across the open plains, didn’t carry books on how to get your kid to sleep, how to PLAY with your baby, or anything else. No books on communicating with neighbors, bridging gaps, or whether carbs were good or bad.
What happened to us?
I was talking to a pediatrician years ago and he said, “Parents can’t think anymore. They are constantly calling for the dumbest reasons. Things everyone should know. It’s as if they’re terrified and think they will do something wrong and their kids will be scared for life. The phone never stops ringing.”
It’s not only that. People read books on social skills, marriage counseling, written by authors who have probably been divorced, Secrets, Creative Visualization, How to treat your dog. One author was able to find his soul mate four times. Married, divorced and rinse and repeat. He was popular for a long time.
I’m bad with dogs and books won’t help. I can’t be alpha dog. If my dog was on the couch, I would be sitting on the floor. My cats were always on the chairs and couches and our whole family was on the floor. So, I’m really a tough person with people, but not animals. I could read a million books, and it wouldn’t do any good at all. If a dog jumped down and said, “No, you sit there,” I tell the dog that it was okay and that she should take the couch.
I can’t see our ancestors EVER dreaming about not knowing how to live, or what to do in pretty much any situation. My grandmother had dogs and never thought she didn’t know how to HAVE a dog. She never once said to me, “I wish there was a book on how to have a dog, or how to talk to you.”
When did people lose their self confidence? When did everyone start to believe that they didn’t know how to live? Cave people, who had a pretty limited skill set, never thought they didn’t know anything. They didn’t sit around wondering when antibiotics would come onto the scene, when their larynx would change and they’d be able to speak. They knew what they needed to know in order to survive, or they learned pretty fast, just by living.
Cave women got pregnant, didn’t take vitamins, or do much of anything but walk a million miles across the earth, then stop to have the baby, get up, if they didn’t die, and keep walking. I can only imagine what they all thought when the first baby was born. “WHAT THE HELL IS THAT!”
How to speak up at work, How to talk to the anti’s, or the others, or those people, or these people, or ___________fill in the blank. There’s a book to teach people how to do every little bitty thing.
Seems weird. Like seat belts and helmets. Those are new things. Before they arrived, we all lived and never thought about being strapped to a seat or wearing a helmet. I’m not saying those things are bad, I am saying that before people were able to make money off of those things, a billion generations rode in cars and on bikes and never had either one. We are getting crazier and crazier, more and more dependent on others telling us what to do and how to do it. And OTHER people are getting rich because we’re being more and more unable to take care of ourselves.
People go to socializing classes, so they can actually SPEAK to another person. There was never a time that I can remember, when people needed a book for socializing. And you know what? I don’t think we’re any better because of it. All the books are doing is making people think that whatever THEY ARE DOING is wrong, or not good enough. It’s stealing self confidence and peace from humans, draining their common senses and leaving them afraid and lost. But maybe that’s just me. Or maybe it’s being done on purpose to make us weaker and more easily MANIPULATED. It’s also making others rich.
I think past generations were much better able to cope with life, no matter how hard it was, and it was HARD for a lot of them. Living through wars and The Depression. Life has never been a piece of cake.
Kids used to be free to play, not registered in activities until they had no time for themselves, or their imaginations. No one had to teach us how to play with our friends, or dogs, or anyone else, and you know what…if kids had problems with each other…THEY worked things out by THEMSELVES. That’s how everyone learned to live and get along. We learned how to compromise, or fight, BY OURSELVES. We learned it by LIVING and not by ratting anyone else out.
And we all only had one voice. Not a single person I ever knew, had an inside voice and an outside voice. None of us were that insane. We also had books. The books we read had chapters. We did not have chapter books. Again…we HAD BOOKS. That’s what they were called. WE, even as children, could see that there were CHAPTERS INSIDE THE COVERS OF THE BOOKS. The dumbing down of children. Seriously. Do people have so much time on their hands that they have to change what we call things? A book is a book, whether it has chapters or not. If a kid opens it, that child will immediately know if there are chapter in it or not. And so, will the child’s parents.
“Do you have chapter books?”
“Why yes, sir, THIS IS A BOOKS STORE AND BOOKS HAVE CHAPTERS! HOW MANY WOULD YOU LIKE?”
I look at the titles of some books that pop up now and then and wonder how rich the authors are getting by telling people how to put their children to bed, in 300 pages.
“LOOK IT UP,” seems to be the answer to everything. Google it. Why? Doesn’t anyone know anything anymore? Take a chance. Lay the kid down. Some poor kids slept in a dresser drawer. It’s NOT THAT BIG OF A DEAL UNLESS YOU’VE LOST CONTROL OF YOUR LIFE.
I think we’ve lost something very important. We’ve lost the ability to think for ourselves, forgetting that the so called “experts,” not only lie, but they aren’t really experts for anyone but themselves and even then, they fail. Always remember Dr. Spock apologizing to the entire country, for thinking he knew what it was like to raise children. Once he had one of his own, he said he was sorry for all the things he wrote in his book. THE ONLY BOOK we had.
Maybe by asking someone else, people can blame them if things don’t work out. They can forego personal responsibility and just say, “Well, that’s what he said to do, so it’s not my fault.”
It just seems so strange. We all grew up wild things, I mean the dinosaurs were gone and no one had a phone that wasn’t attached to a wall. We turned out pretty good, if you ask me. All of us were, and still are, able to think for ourselves. We all put our kids to bed, our dogs were happy and fine. None of us worried about carbs and I only knew one person who had braces, because she really needed them. Was it better then? Sure seems like it. No one was afraid, that’s for sure. And even if we were, we just did what had to be done and that was that.
Even as kids we had to decide what to do, since our parents ignored us. We weren’t precious then. We were simply the next generation of a billion kids who came before us, including our own parents. Everyone seemed to realize that we were all babies once and the earth was over crowded. We were expected to behave in certain situations and other than that, we were on our own.
One thing I do know: As a kid, I got to read really cool books and not a single one was picked out by an adult, or about how to live my own life. I am forever grateful for that. They didn’t kill the love of reading when I was a child, the way they kill it now. We all read for fun. We were never forced to read horrible books about the holocaust, dead parents, abused children, or anything else that came from a list written by an adult. We got to read whatever we wanted to read, and we KEPT ON READING because of that.
Today, the stats say that kids out of high school and college never read another book in their lives. I don’t blame them. They kill the love or reading by forcing kids to read things they don’t want to read. They kill poetry and a lot of things that have to do with the arts. Kids who have the creativity and love of beauty taken from them, make better slaves. Nothing happens by accident. It’s done on purpose. They can’t break everyone, of course, but they do kill those things in most kids, whenever they can.
I can remember my grandson hating the books on the reading lists he received in grade school. He always picked the SHORTEST book, since the subjects were all horrible. He never reads now, except for classes. I told him not to read the books his teacher gave him. WE HAVE THE RIGHT TO FIGHT BACK, YOU KNOW. I told him to read something else and write a paper. But, of course, he wouldn’t do that. Brain washing works that way when grades are held over your head and the punishment for not obeying is fast and harsh.
I wouldn’t have read a single book on any of his lists, silver seals on the cover or not. Books are like perfume, not all scents are for everyone and no one wants to wear something that smells bad to them. Those books all smelled bad. Miserable, sad, horrible books. I was so angry and I still am.
I went to Chicago public schools and had the run of the grade school library. It was fantastic. I never stopped reading, because I got to read books I loved. Thank you Chicago. I may not have learned math, but I wouldn’t be sitting around doing division right now. I do, however, sit around and read. That library is burned into my mind. When I walked in one of the doors, AHHHHH, it was like heaven. Thank you to every librarian who sat behind the desk. Thank you to every grade school teacher who let me read whatever I wanted to read. You have my undying gratitude. I know it’s a little late and that you’re all with the dinosaurs now, but still. Thank you.
Yeah, it really was better back then.
Okay, the dinosaurs probably wouldn’t agree, but still…
is all about
what you read
I want to read so many things at once
that I can’t read anything at all
so I have peanut butter and jelly
and that helps
I taught an art class at the hospital today, for some of the pediatric staff. I ran some errands before I went but arrived early. I decided to get something to eat. I didn’t have a book with me, and I’m not sure that I can actually eat without one, so I went into the gift shop to get a magazine. I grabbed National Geographic, because I could hardly wait to read the cover story and there were more things inside that looked great.
When I got to the counter the woman looked at me, shook her head, and said, “I’ve been here for years and I’ve never sold one of these to anyone. Maybe someone else did, when I wasn’t here, but I’ve never sold one.” She went on to say that when she was in school one of her teachers would tear the pages out of a National Geographic and use them to teach their class. She thought it was wonderful.
With the exception of Better Homes & Garden, a Kitchen/Bath magazine, and one on eating healthy, EVERY magazine was a gossip rag. Just one more awful thing that’s happening to our culture.
Gotta love those TBR (to be read) piles. One page at a time. Bliss.
“You think I have an attitude? A chip, on my shoulder? Is that what you think?” she snapped, her hand on her hip, “Do you have a problem, with me? Am I not what you expected? Not what you think a woman should be like?”
“Uh, actually,” he said. “I think you’re a little scary but kind of cool and way better than I expected.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“Look, Im just here to do the interview.”
“What do you want to know?”
“How did you get so…big?”
“I guess that’s a fair question,” she said, staring down at him. “I read. I read constantly and when a person reads, they grow. They get bigger. I’ve been reading all my life, that’s how I got to be this size. Like I said, when you read…you grow.”
“How, exactly, does that work?”
“Books are just other peoples ideas and opinions. Their personal points of view. All points of view come from personal experience.”
“Okay, I get that.”
“So, when you read what other people write, you’re learning how other people see the world. How they see the same thing you see, but in a different way. You see those things with new eyes, and you understand things you didn’t understand before you read their words. We all have different experiences, right?”
“Right,” he said, nodding.
“When you read everyone else’s experiences, you have a million ways to look at one thing. You incorporate all those ways of seeing, into your own life and you grow because of that. Some things are difficult, even impossible, to understand. I mean some experiences are too far removed from your own life but still, they make you grow.”
So it’s like over eating?”
“You don’t read, do you?” she sighed, shaking her head.
“Sure I do, just not a lot. I’m watching my weight.”
“Do I LOOK FAT to you?”
“Not at all,” he said, backing up.
“You don’t get FAT, you get SMART and you grow from that. You expand and get larger, so you can hold all the information, the ideas, the laughter, the facts, and the adventure. Most importantly, you get a better understanding of other people and the way the world works and doesn’t work. It can be helpful, joyful, depressing and everything else, but it gets you out of your own little world and YOU GROW FROM THAT!”
“OKAY. You don’t have to shout.”
“I wasn’t shouting,” she said defensively. “I simply raised my voice.”
“So, you’re saying that by reading constantly, you can understand life better, is that right?”
“Life will never make sense but basically, yes, that is correct.”
“Does knowing all that stuff, make you happier?”
“Happier?” she asked, frowning.
“Yes,” he said. “Happier.”
“I don’t read about the truly bad things because I can’t sleep, if I do. Some of the things I read simply confirm what I already knew, or thought. I read for information, for pleasure and sometimes I read to keep my rage fresh. I don’t know if I’m any happier. When you read you find out that there aren’t a lot of happy things out there, so your question is a good one. Reading for me is necessary. I need it to live, but no, it doesn’t make me happier about life, it’s actually a way to escape from living.”
“I think I have everything I need,” he said, going through his notes, turning off the recorder. I’m glad to have met you. I’m not sure that I understand your need to read, but I do understand what you get out of it and I hope you continue to grow, although you are already quite large and full of thoughts and ideas. Thank you for answering my questions. If it’s okay, I’d like to come back and talk some more. Not for the magazine,” he added. “Just to talk.”
“You’re welcome and you can come back anytime.”
“What are you reading right now, in that huge book?”
“It’s about rabbits and how they feel about being prey.”
“I bet they don’t feel very good about it.”
“No. They don’t. They’re always afraid and their lives are short, violent and cruel.”
“I am too. I try to look out for them but it’s difficult.”
“If there’s anything I can do to help…”
“You can work to stop people from eating them and wearing their skin.”
“You have my word. I’ll do what I can.”
“What are you reading?”
“You won’t laugh?”
“I promise,” she said, smiling.
“The Velveteen Rabbit,” he said, his face turning bright red. “My grandmother found my old books and gave them to me. It was on the top of the stack and I remembered how much I loved it.”
“It’s a wonderful book and we have rabbits in common,” she said. “They both need our help, real or imagined. See, we know how rabbits FEEL, what they THINK, and you can only know that by reading what rabbits have told others, so they could tell the rest of us.”
“If I read more, will I grow, like you did?”
“Yes. There’s no doubt about that. Every book you read makes you bigger.”
“I can see why the books you read have to be large. I can’t imagine you holding a regular paperback.”
“Where do your books come from?”
“From a firm who makes large books for big readers. I can’t get all the titles I’m looking for but they do a good enough job and they’re getting better.”
“I’ll be back,” he said, picking up his backpack. “I promise.”
She didn’t say goodbye. She was already turning the next page. Readers are like that, always turning the next page.