Slow down

Ted Gioia echoes R.A. Lafferty:


I tell myself that, because I am not a fast reader.

I can do speed reading, if it’s absolutely necessary—but I find it painful and exhausting. My natural reading pace is languid, almost lethargic.

My lifetime reading plan has been my proven path to Nirvana
Even more to the point, the books I read must be savored and slowly digested. Proust is one of my favorite authors, but I could only handle his ultra-dense writing in small doses. So I read through his 2,000-page novel at the pace of seven pages per day. I started when I was a teenager, and got to the final page shortly before my 30th birthday.

Of course, I read many other things during that period, but I always came back to his massive book—taking it slowly, thoughtfully, in the way it deserved.

For many years, I felt that my slow reading was holding me back. I would be wiser, I would be smarter, I told myself, if I could just read faster. I often keep going back over the same sentences again and again, trying to decipher their inner meaning. This slows me down to a tortoise’s pace—and it’s frustrating.

But now I believe slowness was a benefit. My learning was deeper and more mind-expanding because I didn’t rush it.

By the way, I did the same thing when I learned jazz piano. I spent months learning things that could have been mastered in days. But by the time, I was done, I had internalized my learning at a deep level.

Life is not a race. The journey is its own reward. If we could make the trip instantaneously—like they do with those teleporters in Star Trek—it wouldn’t be worth anything.

See Lafferty’s “The Primary Education of the Camiroi.”