Well it appears that old man winter has finally lost its clutch on us and had stepped aside to let spring do its magic--Finally! I couldn't be more excited about the warmer temperatures. And what better way to enjoy the warmth than with a great book?!
I can already hear the sounds of summer--car stereos have kicked up a notch, neighbors' lawnmowers eating up freshly grown grass, kids bouncing balls and screaming with delight...it's hard to control the wondrous feeling of summer just around the corner.
Most people find some activity to keep their bodies in shape, but one muscle most ignore, which shouldn't be, is the brain. Yes, the brain is a muscle that needs to be worked out because if you don't use it, you most likely will lose it, and that's not a joke. Exercising the mind isn't a hard thing to do and it really doesn't take that much effort at all, but when you stop using it for its intended purposes, you'll slowly find as you age, the mind tends to go.
This is why I keep my mind as active as I most possibly can by reading. My mind soaks up words like a sponge to water. In fact, I truly can't imagine not being able to read. I can't imagine life without the written word. How does one survive without reading? Recently, I read an article in Jet Magazine wherein a poll was taken of African-Americans who cannot read. I was totally blown away with this article. Either some could not read most words, or those who could, didn't read on an eighth grade level which is typically the standard reading level of most books the average person reads. Millions of people who don't get to enjoy the very thing that makes my life worth living--Words!
It must be extremely frustrating to a person who can't read. To go through life wondering what those words on a sign says by not being able to sound it out or figure it out? To buy groceries and only be able to recognize the color of cans instead of the actual words printed on them. And it's not just black people whose numbers were alarming to me, but our illiteracy in this country as a whole! My God, for every one person who can read and write, there are four who cannot. Factor in the millions of Americans in this country, and it is mind blowing. That means there are hundreds of thousands who can't read one word I'm writing on this blog and that saddens my spirit. Not because I want people to read my thoughts, but the fact that there are so many out there who can't enjoy what the written word has to say!
For me, there isn't a season that I can't sit and curl up with a book. I wouldn't know how to act if I didn't have something to read. If I don't have a book, then I'm reviewing some magazine or something, but I have to have something to read literally at all times. It's like I feel naked when I'm not engaged in a book. Whether a book is great or a dud, I have to be involved in it. I try to give each author that bit of respect of reading their words and grasping the meaning to their stories. That is so much fun, I can't even begin to comprehend how anyone who can read wouldn't want to do so? I've heard people tell me that they don't like to do it, and I always look at that person sideways. How can you not want to read? I suppose because it is such a huge passion of mine, it just boggles my mind that there are those who have this wonderful gift, but don't use it much.
Everyone has a story to tell and I've made a vow to myself to read every story I can get my hands on. Reading keeps your mind sharp and in focus. It helps you to think and makes you smarter, in some respects. I know plenty of educated readers who don't have much common sense, but that doesn't apply to everyone. So if you have the time, you need to make yourself a promise and take a reading challenge. It starts with one book, and so on and so forth. If you know a person who is struggling with reading, and they want the help, by all means teach that person to read!
Giving someone the gift of words is the most meaningful thing you could do for another human being. You're helping to educate a person's mind and that's a skill that no one can take from you.
So remember, exercising your body is extremely important, but don't forget to exercise your mind which is equally important if not more. And, as my mother always told me, practice makes perfect, so the more you do it, the better you will become. What are YOU waiting for? Go grab that next best novel and get to readin'! Your mind will thank you!
Kimberly Ranee Hicks, Author/Poet
Have a Safe and Pleasant Memorial Weekend!