26 days — 26 learnings: Part twentyone of looking back & looking beyond.
My word for today is:
Mid-December of last year, I was sitting in a cozy bakery, with a good friend and as always he brought me a book as a gift and so did I. As we handed each other our little present, I mentioned that in 2017 I read more than 75 books.
He asked me; “Isn’t that almost too many?” I replied; “Maybe.”
I’ve never kept track in the years before, I’ve always been quite a reader. In 2017, I discovered goodreads.com and felt it would be helpful to be more deliberate about my reading. My aim was to write a quick summary or book review for every book. I didn’t keep that promise. I wrote a few reviews and gave star ratings, but my desire to start another book was higher than my eagerness to write summaries and reviews.
There were times, where I was reading five or even more books at the same time. They were all so different; it didn’t feel wrong doing that.
Is it useful though to read so many books? Especially if one doesn’t take time to reflect appropriately on them.
It’s not an easy question to answer. My first thought was:
Did it feel good?
Which was easy to answer: “Yes, it did, I enjoyed reading these books.” Time you’ve enjoyed wasting, is never wasted, is one of the quotes I live by, so all set, right?
But is it that simple? I tried to look at other parallels. Like this very exercise of posting a year-in-review 26 days in a row. Is it useful? Again I asked the same questions:
Does it feel good?
Now, there is a little more nuanced “Yes.” It feels good when it is done, but it’s not always easy to get it done. It’s a bit like sports. It takes some effort to get up and running and do exercise, and it’s not always all that fun but the feeling after doing sports, is hard to beat.
Aren’t the things we need to push ourselves for, in the end, the most rewarding and therefore useful?
My tendency says yes. Then I wonder: Useful for whom? Is something that brings value only to oneself still valuable? And is usefulness the same as valuable?
The opposite of valuable is worthless, whereas the opposite of useful is useless. Which does not bring all that much more clarity to me. I look through a dozen articles to conclude that there is no straightforward answer.
Not to whether value and usefulness differ, nor to what can be considered valuable or useful.
My learning therefore is:
Simple questions often don’t have simple answers. That does not make asking them less valuable.
My takeaway for 2018: Do not doubt, even when you don’t fully understand the value of something. If it feels right, that’s a great start. And keep the questions coming :-)