There are times in your life when intellectual pursuits begin to feel like heavy burdens, ultimately resulting in disillusionment and frustration, rather than being an intriguing pursuit of curiosity. For the past year of my life I have existed in this space. Watching the news only reminded me how much more there was to learn about the world around me. Attempting to read a book for leisure resulted in my eyes drooping within the first three pages. A library was a symbol of my own shortcomings and lively discussion with friends often resulted in feeling forlorn and incompetent. I believe that this anxiety was the result of being burnt out from the previous year and my mind needing a “break” from reality. Don’t get me wrong; I have not been sitting around doing mindless activities for an entire year. While at work I have continued to challenge myself mentally. However, any extra effort outside of the workplace was distinctly focused on activities that required more use of my body, such as dancing or working out, than use of my mind muscle. Suddenly, about a month and a half ago, I suddenly felt rested. I found myself curious again, and excited to read up on random things.
With this newfound feeling, I decided to join a book club. This was my first experience signing up for a book club and I did so through a meet up site. In all honesty I entered into the book club extremely skeptical. I assumed that the group would be a coming together of a group of people who were going to shout out seemingly smart phrases to cover up the fact that they hadn’t in fact read the book. Thus as I pulled up to the local bookshop where the meeting was set to take place, I was not entirely looking forward to it. I told myself that regardless of the outcome I still gained from the experience, having FINALLY finished a book in its entirety rather than putting it down half way through. Luckily my friend agreed to come with me so I felt as though I had “back up”.
Once we walked into the bookshop to our right there was a large circle of approximately 15 chairs set up against the front window. Sitting in these chairs there was a variety of people and ages. Not only was there a good mix of ages, but there was also a pretty even mix of genders as well. As the discussion began, it became apparent that most of the people had actually read the book. Not only had they read it, they actually had valuable input. People began to bring up topics related to their own experiences that I had not even begun to consider.
Having been an English major I have had my fair share of literary discussions. While the discussion was on par with other discussions I have had in the past, what made this experience particularly interesting was the fact that voices of people much older than myself were being heard. As I walked away from this first book club meeting, confident that I would be returning for the next one, I couldn’t help but think about how much was missing from my college studies. While we all attempted to make profound comments on matters that we were reading about, and generally most conversations truly did inspire higher thought, there was always the glaring disability involved in that all of the thoughts originated from students who for better or worse were close to the same age and had a relatively similar intellectual standing having been accepted in the same college. That said, there are so many more perspectives that were never heard. Needless to say I found myself incredibly pleased to have found a space where I felt comfortable giving voice to my thoughts and hearing the opinions of people with vastly different backgrounds than myself. Additionally, I am incredibly grateful to have found a door opening back into the realm of curiosity that is not draped with agitation or fear, but rather lit up with the glorious hope of infinite possibilities.