For those of you playing along at home that is 12″ shaved off in 8 months, about 1.5″ per month. Sadly, however, the pair of 36″ pants that briefly graced my waist during the month of April are missing from this graph.
This is a case of too much yet not enough.
I tried, really tried, but this weighted tome dragged me under and held me until sputtering and choking I put it down for bright skies and fresh air. Melville could have used a good editor as the liberal use of semi-colons left me eyes bulged and teeth gritted waiting for the sweet relief of a period. Coupled with the near worthless expositions of natural history, metaphysics, and self-congratulatory displays of knowledge about biblical and ancient myths the worthwhile parts are stretched too far apart like so few of those whaling stations he wrote so fondly about.
I dashed that out late Saturday night after tossing the book aside in frustration but is it really a problem with the prose? After some honest self reflection, I’d say no. This is a classic “It’s me, not you” situation. Too put it in perspective my time and resources are over taxed, over allocated, and poorly invested. I subscribe to over 200 RSS feeds, participate in dozens of online communities, chase after my year-old, work a full-time job, consult on the side, and try to cook a decent meal. When I carve out a moment to read, like I have been trying to do for over two years with my reading list, the most I can concentrate on is linear fluff. Melville is too dense and while wandering around the woods with Gabi I came to the conclusion that I need to carve up my life and discard those pieces that are superfluous.
200 feeds, seriously I would wake up in the morning with some 1800 unread items and after skimming 200 items I would just make the whole stack as read. What is the point of that? Wasted time, wasted energy, and the whole process left me feeling both mentally fatigued and scatterbrained. After hacking my feed list up and sanding it down it now stands at 53 feeds and when I wake up I have around 80 items unread.
Online communities? Paring it down as I type with the goal of abandoning nearly all with the exception of where my co-workers and friends hangout: Facebook/Twitter/Geezeo for work and a private site for my friends. I’m still following the blogs of friends and will chat there but gone are the days of commenting on Digg, Reddit, eMusic, Last.fm, ad nauseum. One thing that I have learned is that soaking in it can be mentally toxic; how many Ron Paul stories can you read and how many posts can a lonely divorcee make while drunk to what was once my favorite music destination? Really, I don’t give a fuck how much Chardonnay you drank or how horny The National makes you and Ron Paul? Get serious, he is a Class A fuckwit. A post or two might elicit a chuckle, but any number beyond that makes me want to hurl my laptop right out the front door. The noise is overwhelming the signal.
Getting back to basics. It is really more like reconstructing my pre-Internet life: time to read and listen to music, time to work, time with family, time to be creative, and time to be active. While I might not be able to drop everything and hit the trails for an epic ride like I did some 10 years ago I can carve out time for a walk. Better yet, we signed up at a local community center which has everything you could wish a health and fitness center could and would: daycare, playscape, Olympic sized pool, exercise classes, free weights, cardio room. It will give us a chance to spend time as a family as well as provide us a place to maybe get a little less doughy.
So what does this have to do with Moby Dick? My life as I have been living it is keeping me from being able to really read it and that is a symptom of a bigger issue. If I cannot put forth the time to read a book typically assigned in a high school English class what else am I missing out on and who else is getting shorted when it comes to my attention and energy. So, while I’m putting it down and picking up something a little more trashy, I am not willing to give up on it completely. Maybe after I put things back in perspective you might find me banging out some sets on a recumbent while polishing off the closing chapters of Melville’s love letter to the semi-colon.