Last week, I was sitting in my living room and I could feel myself becoming dumb.
Let me explain…
I have been graduated from college for over a year now, I have a one-year-old daughter, and I am a stay-at-home mom. My conversations throughout the day mostly consist of me talking to my daughter about what’s going on around us. Since she doesn’t talk back, it can be a pretty lonely way to communicate. Not to mention, I never really get more advanced than talking about diapers, food, naps, or toys. Of course, I do get some adult interaction when I go to the gym or meet my friends for a day at the pool. But, overall, I’m talking to a baby all day! On top of that, I’m not really learning much these days. Yes, yes, I know what you’re thinking, “Sam, you learn something every day! You’re a first-time mom, you’re always learning!” True, I agree. But not like when I was in school, you know? In my free time, I usually either do chores around the house, relax and watch a show, scroll through social media, or take a nap. All fine things, I have no major complaints or quarrels with those activities.
But there I was, sitting on the couch while Blake was asleep, scrolling through Instagram, and I just started feeling so depleted! I thought to myself, “I am not gaining anything from this. In fact, I feel like this mindlessness is killing all my healthy brain cells!” Dramatic, I know. But, seriously though. I felt myself getting stupid! For the past few months, I’ve felt like I couldn’t articulate my thoughts accurately. I’ve felt disconnected from the world. From my husband. From my education. My vocabulary was dwindling and I craved the expansion of your mind that comes when you read.
So I started. I put down my phone. I turned off the TV. I stopped playing video games (yes I was even playing some video games) and I picked up a book.
I am going to be really honest here for a second (and probably embarrass myself). It was actually hard to read at first… It felt like I forgot how! Okay, I don’t mean I forgot how to sound out words on a page. I just mean that I had such a hard time internalizing anything that was on the page.
The problem was that I couldn’t turn off my mind. I couldn’t turn off the background noise in my brain that was playing so loudly and just focus on those words on the page. And that experience taught me a valuable lesson. Even when the distractions around us (mostly technology) are turned off, are they actually turned off in our minds? Probably not. Because we’ve become so immersed in this world of media and immediacy that we aren’t always able to just flip the switch and walk away.
BUT, we can practice! We can learn how to turn those things off in an instant if we just practice. Reading, praying, meditating, doing yoga, running, stretching, gardening, painting, drawing. These are just a handful of activities that I think help us disconnect from the world and reconnect with ourselves, our families, and our faith.
Let me take a moment to clarify one thing. You are not dumb if you don’t read. Please don’t take this experience that I had as a way of me telling you that all those who don’t read are stupid and disconnected from their families or lives. This is just something I noticed happening to me. And it was through this experience that I realized what a danger it is to be so disconnected from the things and the people who are the most important to me. I can only assume that there are at least a few other people out there who have felt something similar happen in their own lives.
I decided to challenge myself. I am going to take up at least one of the aforementioned activities and put down one other activity relating to media, for one month. I invite you to do it with me, too! Just try it. For one month. Let me know what happens! I am confident that whatever it is, however significant or small of a change it brings to your life, it will be for the better. I’ll update y’all on what I have learned from taking my own shot at this challenge, too!
“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”
― Dr. Seuss,