Saturday, July 30, 2011

You Are What You Read

There's been a great deal of focus on the food industry recently. The perils of GMOs, hormones, fast food, antibiotics and apathy are becoming more widely known, thanks to the likes of Michael Pollan, Eric Schlosser, Morgan Spurlock and even Barbara Kingsolver, who've produced movies, books and other compelling materials on the matter.

My partner is passionate about the issue and is gladly in charge of the food in our home. Glad and passionate as he may be, numerous challenges arise when we shop. Trips to even the best of grocery stores bring about dissatisfaction in the number of poor food choices, uncertainty over labeling and a heck of a lot more money for the healthy, natural and humanely-treated and sanely-delivered foods that once were a given.

I'm grateful John is so interested in the quality of what we're consuming -- as grateful as I am to reap the benefits of his care. I'd like to think I return the favor with my attention to a different form of consumption.

I very rarely, if ever, watch television. This is due in part to a greater interest in nature, socializing with friends and family and exploring the city and all it has to offer. It's also due to the fact that what for most people is television time for me is dedicated to reading.

Not only do I love to read, I've long believed that reading is simply "better" than television. There's no marketing coming at you in musical, multi-colored rapid fire, and the content is more thoroughly explored and intelligently presented.

What I've missed in this somewhat arrogant and narrow view is the reality that everything we read and watch -- as well as eat, listen to and experience -- has an impact and leaves an imprint. While certainly the quality of those imprints are important to our bodies, minds and well-being, the mere presence of an imprint of any kind is worth consideration.

This became clear to me a couple of weeks ago. I'd been reading a top-selling book of non-fiction by an award-winning author on a culturally-relevant and personally intriguing topic. The language was smooth and well-crafted, the arguments were well-reasoned and the experience was pleasant and enlightening.

And I woke up every morning during that time having dreamt of the book and its contents.

This isn't necessarily a bad thing, yet it did give me pause to consider what was not being processed, what was not being achieved during my resting hours given the influx of this information.

What is not being healed, relaxed, processed and released, what is not being generated, created and invented due to the pervasive influx of information from all forms of technology, entertainment and information sources?

Reading, like television, provides fuel for our brains. Certainly it is important to be conscious of the quality of what we take in and to cultivate a relationship with our minds -- and our bodies -- that is nourishing and healthy. Yet it is equally important to remember that there is a need for space in the nourishment cycle.

Just as the body can't consume food 24 or even 12 hours a day, we need to pause in order to process what it is we've taken in. What's more, we need to realize the opportunity for nourishment that resides in that pausing. Silence and stillness are their own forms of education and entertainment -- forms that many of us could use a good deal more of.

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