Reading in order to enjoy life more?

Lately I have been reading a lot. Especially as my body is recovering from surgery I have time where I can’t move much and just can pretty much eat, read, pray and play mandolin. Not a bad existence :). But I have been reading this book today

Human Accomplishment

It’s been really interesting, chronicling human achievement for the last 10,000 years. He said something interesting as a introduction to his theory that accomplishment can be ranked. He wanted to explain why experts can tell better than others if something is good or not. Imagine if you’re going to a baseball game with a friend, you know everything about baseball, the strategies, the players, the team and your friend knows almost nothing. Who is going to enjoy it more? It’s not a definite but your appreciation will have a lot more nuance. You can tell why that was a great play, or a great idea to steal to third base. You know the physical limitations or things at stake when a player makes a risky move. It makes the game more exciting.

Also those who invest more into something, seeking to know it better will have a greater emotional commitment and value of it. All that to say it’s likely that the more you know about something the more you will enjoy it or appreciate it.

I read an article about a year ago that has stuck with me ever since “How to speed read like Teddy Roosevelt”. I don’t particularly care about speed reading but I love his voracious appetite for books and learning and how it enabled him to live a fantastic and interesting life. Here are a couple paragraphs from a wikipedia article about him

He was an enthusiastic singlestick player and, according to Harper’s Weekly, in 1905 showed up at a White House reception with his arm bandaged after a bout with General Leonard Wood.[99] Roosevelt was also an avid reader, reading tens of thousands of books, at a rate of several a day in multiple languages. Along with Thomas Jefferson, Roosevelt is often considered the most well read of any American politician.[100]

Roosevelt had a lifelong interest in pursuing what he called, in an 1899 speech, “the strenuous life“. To this end, he exercised regularly and took up boxingtennishikingrowingpolo, and horseback riding. As governor of New York, he boxed with sparring partners several times a week, a practice he regularly continued as President until one blow detached his leftretina, leaving him blind in that eye (a fact not made public until many years later). Thereafter, he practiced judo attaining a third degree brown belt and continued his habit of skinny-dipping in the Potomac River during winter.

He lived a fascinating life and was able to relate to people from every sphere of life because he had read books from their point of view and about what they do. I definitely don’t think reading is a cure-all, but I think that it is so helpful and can really help us enjoy life more and know how to really live a full life. Especially to have a broader perspective and see the blind-spots where your upbringing and culture has misled or simply not informed you of a fuller world out there.

I would rather meet someone that knows God than just knowing facts. However I would most like to meet someone that knows God and loves learning, and growing in understanding about the world he/she is in.

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