A few days ago, I sat down to update my “to read” list. Now, I have a confession to make: my “to read” list is actually an Excel spreadsheet. When I began working at the library, the list of books I wanted to read grew from a memorable amount to ridiculous proportions. I started keeping a notebook of titles. But the longer that I was constantly exposed to books… shelving, talking to patrons, and ordering for the three youth collections… the longer the list got and I found myself adding titles that I had already listed pages before, forgetting this “little known gem” had already crossed my radar months earlier. Now, I add more books each month than I can read in the average month, so basically, I’ve come to realization that I will NEVER finish my “to read” list. At first, that realization was difficult to take (don’t laugh!)… I didn’t want to think I would never be able to catch up… to finish my list. And shhh, don’t tell anyone this, but Miss English Major-turned-Librarian actually read very little for a period of a few months! I had become so focused on the fact that I could never do it all that I was discouraged. But then I went to the other extreme... this insanity-induced idea that I could plow through the list. If I just read fast enough! And somewhere along the way it happened: reading became a chore, like the required reading in school. The concept that I had always spoken to kids and parents in the library about being against vehemently. So I kind of took that break and made some decisions. I can’t read everything. (duh.) I had to accept that. I have to choose… prioritize… which books I definitely need/want to read and which are just because everyone’s reading it or some other less-necessary-for-me-to-add-it-to-my-list reason. And the other thing I relearned was to make time for FUN reads. I need lighthearted books, I need adult brain-stimulating books… I need to be a well-rounded reader. If we don’t take time for fun, we’ll get burned out.
Okay, so you may be thinking that I’m putting WAY too much emphasis on books. (But there was an article I mentioned in this blog months ago on the very topic of children’s librarians needing to read for enjoyment, AND my favorite author, Shannon Hale just wrote an article on the same topic in School Library Journal.) But this book/reading concept has other life implications for me. It’s been a long few months for me. Work and outside work… life is busy. I'm okay with the busyness at work. I see my work as an opportunity to serve, but there are parameters put on it by my hours/schedule. Some days are busier than others, some times of the year are busier than others. But work's fine. Outside of work, I was running myself ragged. Seriously. I wasn’t home one night a week. There are SO many good things out there we can do with our time, but that doesn’t mean because it’s good, that it’s right to do. In what I like to call the “multiplicity effect”, as I’m working through some of this on my own with God, my pastor started a sermon series on Serving. He talked about how, in the Church, we are called to serve. But the phrase he kept saying every week is that we are to be human beings, not human doings. Wow. So you mean my constant pace wasn’t a good thing? ;) Just like with reading, I realized if I try to do too much, I’m going to burn out. I’m going to lose my passion for what it is I’m doing. And I need to give myself time to have a personal life (or enjoy the “light read”) every now and then. There are certain things I do that I LOVE to do and there are ones that God calls me to do. But I can’t do it all. Guilt is not a reason to do something. Even good intentions of helping others is not a good reason if it’s not what God has called me, personally, to do. So this has been good for me. Hard, but good. I’m learning how to say “no” (still). I’m learning that I can’t go at a constant pace (even when people say “Do it while you can. You’re young.”) I’m learning to pick and choose and do fewer things fully committed than a million things and be unable to give my best because I’m doing it out of guilt or because I’m so tired I can’t give my best. Getting back to the basics of why I loved something in the first place. And this is a good thing.