I was talking to one of my juniors at office recently and things turned to how there is no time to do anything. So I started quizzing him about how he spends his time.
He listed all the usual suspects. Commute, work, sleep, TV, Facebook, friends, telephone. Reading was conspicuously absent from the list.
This started me thinking. Why do we read? What do we miss if we don’t read?
When someone writes an article or a book, that person is really presenting to us his distilled learning or summarized experience. So when we read it, we are benefitting from that learning without having to go through the same gruelling experiences over a long period of time. We save ourselves the effort, the pain and the time in learning.
In a way, the author lifts us on his shoulders so that we can see much farther.
When we refuse to read, we are insisting on learning only from our own experiences. But as Benjamin Franklin says “Experience is a dear (expensive) teacher, but fools will learn at no other”. In addition to that, the learning will remain limited to what we can interpret from that experience.
Our own Ramdas Swami said almost 400 years ago वाचाल तर वाचाल. You will survive only if you read.
The “You tube” generation, exposed to a lot of different media, is likely to question this. Won’t our learning happen from the other media? The great collection of educational audio and video? It definitely will. I am a big proponent of using these media for learning.
However, my reservation is that these are really passive media. They do not need any involvement from the listener / viewer. All the user needs to do is to be present.
Contrast this with reading. The reader really needs to get into the authors mind. Needs to actively interpret what the author is trying to say. Visualize the authors experience. This involvement provides a stronger and a much deeper experience.
Also, I am using the word “reading” in a much broader sense to mean learning from other people’s experience.
Do you think you are reading enough?