Recently I found myself waiting in a doctor’s office without anything to read. It was an unsettling feeling; I felt out of sorts and wasn’t sure what to do with the extra time. Usually I keep a magazine in my bag for such moments. In this instance, my husband was having his eyes checked, and I had a few minutes to wait before his exam would be completed.
Other people tend to take out their smart phones. They tap at the screen, checking I’m-not-sure-what. My iPhone primarily functions as a phone. I don’t use it to check emails or go online; those activities can wait until I’m home on my computer. So, I checked the weather and played a game of Bejeweled. But then I put the phone back in my purse and sat.
I silently berated myself for squandering this valuable time. I am in possession of a never-ending supply of reading material -- a shelf at home with books waiting for me, a list of titles that intrigue me, a few magazines in the basket by my coffee table.
Granted, now that I’m not teaching I do have more time to read. But a lot of my reading still happens at night, and usually trying to read at night means I will fall asleep reading.
At my recent writing retreat, one of the writers had asked the group when we all find time to read. (Writers must be readers after all.) I said I always carry something with me to read. Just that morning, in fact, as I waited to enter the dining room for our breakfast buffet, I had pulled a magazine out of my bag and read an article.
On this particular morning in the doctor’s office, though, I had finished the magazine that had been in my bag and had forgotten to replace it with another edition. So sitting in the doctor’s office, I took to people watching. (Something else I think all writers should do). But I felt uneasy, exposed and on display, without another world, the written world, to escape into.
I’m still not sure what to make of this situation. Maybe my need to fill all my “extra” moments reading is akin to those who take out their iPhones at each lull in their day. Maybe I need more opportunities to practice sitting, or waiting, just being mindful of myself and my surroundings.
But, just in case, I have put a new magazine in my purse for next time.