I've been thinking about all the identities I've clung to over the years, which no longer apply. I've been baby sister, shy school kid, English tertiary student, newlywed, mother of toddlers and babies, and currently, mother of teenagers. I know that phase will be transitory too. The empty nest syndrome, which I've heard so much about, will come sweeping through our house all too soon. I know this isn't an original thought, but I can't believe how the years fly. I've been a little sad, to think that I've plowed through each of these identities so quickly, like levels on a computer game. I wasn't intending to hurry, and it makes me wonder if I appreciated each stage to the full while I was in it.
I feel a little ache inside to think each of the old identities is gone, never to return. Trying to grasp them is like trying to snatch a wave in your hands, as it rushes past on the banks of a creek. I wish there was one thing which had stayed constant through it all. (I know there are other aspects, such as being female, Australian, Christian, but to my way of thinking, these are more tied up with what I 'am' rather than what I 'do', so they are a bit different.)
Then I remember, hey, there is one thing. It's the thing which has meant such a lot to me and filled many happy hours. I'm a reader. That has never changed through all those years. As a child, I was known as a bookworm, and I'm still just as avid a reader every chance I can get. If you like visiting reading blogs such as this one, you might well be the same.
In my case, the little girl who'd pore over Little House on the Prairie and Trixie Belden turned into young teen who loved L.M. Montgomery and developed Regency novel fever. She's the same young adult who had Bleak House, Little Dorrit, Middlemarch and Villette lined up to get through within a certain amount of time for English. That person became the young mum who took every chance to read Harry Potter while her young kids were busy. And now, the mother of teens wakes up each morning keen to get a look at the freebies and discount books for e-readers from sites such as Inspired Reads and Pixel of Ink. That's me. They are all me.
Whew, what a relief that something has stayed constant, and what a worthy identity it is to retain. If you are a reader too, you'll know what I mean. It is great fun as well as being beneficial for your mind. I wouldn't expect it to ever change.
But just after coming to that conclusion, I chanced upon an elderly friend in the supermarket who said, "I'd love to read your new book, but I'd better be quick to do it while I can. My eyesight is fading and the doctor said I might not be able to read for much longer. I'm squeezing as much in as possible, but oh boy, after a lifetime, I'm sure going to miss it."
That came as a bit of a blow, just after figuring this out. Even that identity may slide away down the waterfall of life along with all the others I've had to let go. It may well be the hardest to farewell. Please let me keep my eyesight into my senior years. Then I remember that it's the 21st century, so no reader really needs to be faced with the threat of having to relinquish reading. Listening to recorded books would surely be better than nothing, and e-readers are set so that you can make the print very large and very dark.
Here's to reading, and to those of us who remain readers to the end.