By Michael Howlett
March 20, 2014
In an effort to promote reading, today I will be addressing a number of benefits that can be attained by participating in such as stimulating source of entertainment.
No, Rooster, not that kind of stimulating. Yes, I know you and Uagina like to read “bodice busters” and reenact them, but I’m talking about something else entirely. I’m talking about enlightenment, expanding one’s mind, opening one’s consciousness to new ideas and possibilities, not to mention making one healthier.
Okay, now that Rooster has lost interest, we can move on with our discussion. We have a choice; either we can discuss how books can make you healthier or how books can give you superpowers. I think we should go with the health aspect. After all, reading can reduce stress, improve memory, reduce the rate of cognitive decline, increase empathy, and increase tolerance for uncertainty. So, let’s begin … wait a minute … I thought you left … okay, it appears that Rooster is going to continue to disrupt this conversation unless we discuss how books give one superpowers.
One book that will supposedly put you in tights and a cape is “Getting Things Done.” This book promises to tell you how to “plow through your most important work by transforming you into a well-oiled productivity machine.” I’m just not sure about this well-oiled business. That sounds like something that goes on at a Mr. Universe competition or at Richard Simmons’ house. But, as it turns out, the writer is just trying to help workers become more efficient.
Now, I’ve had a ceiling to the amount of work I’ve been willing to do since I was a young spit. Work is fine, as long as one doesn’t overdo it; so being more productive is not really the superpower I’m looking for. Invisibility is the superpower I’m looking for. Of course, I would use it only for good. I promise.
Another book that supposedly gives you superpowers is appropriately named “Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength.” However, once again I was a bit disappointed when I found out this superpower was the ability to “resist temptation so that you can focus on what’s important and accomplish your goals,” rather than throw elephants into space. Damn, I’d like to throw an elephant into space, or, at the least, a deer. No, make that every single deer on the planet. That would be a superpower.
The third offering is “The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do In Life and Business.” This book will teach you to “optimize your daily routine by changing your habits and forming better ones.” Now, I’ve been asked maybe a gazillion times just by the Mistress of the Manor alone why I do some of the things I do. My only answer is, “I am a force of nature.” To which she responds, “What the hell is that supposed to mean?”
Of course, I’ve had other people inquire into my strange habits – my parents, teachers, professors, several Army officers, as well as a staff sergeant and a sergeant major, co-workers, bosses, the guy who walks up and down the street waving his arms while talking to himself. I used to try to provide a satisfactory answer, but I’ve pretty much given up on such a thing. Now, I just stick my hands in my pockets, kick at an imaginary stone and drool profusely.
In “Thinking Fast and Slow,” the author writes of a superpower that helps a person “avoid mental malfunctions and overcome the shortcomings of human intuition by learning how humans actually think,” which, on the surface, seems like a good thing to know. The only thing is I don’t even know what’s going on in my head half the time, so trying to figure out how someone else thinks seems like a monumental task. Just think, you’re walking down the street and all of a sudden you hear “Dang, I think I just soiled myself,” or “I’ve got to stop off at the drug store for that new super duper feminine hygiene spray.” I don’t want to know these things.
Besides, what if that ability careened out of control and not only could you know what other humans are thinking, but also animals? Can you imagine listening to the constantly inane jabbering of squirrels, who think only of their nuts, or the sarcastic asides your cat makes about your appearance, or dogs, which can’t even finish a thought because their ADHD-addled brains bounced around in their little doggie skulls like a rubber ball in a mixer? Oh, the horrors. No, that’s not for me.
After looking over these superpower-supplying books, I think I’ll just remain my imperfect self. However, if we meet, be careful what you ask me. The wrong question and there may be drool.