The Big Sandy Mountaineer -

Patching Cracks

 

September 15, 2021



I am currently reading a book on speed reading. I have tried to learn speed reading in the past, but have struggled with the discipline and practice elements of the process. An interesting element of the process set for in the book I’m currently reading is the idea of a set of “pre-reading” disciplines. This isn’t like warming up before exercising, but rather is more like surveying the path in front of you. The first is to decide why you are reading the book or article in the first place. What do you hope to accomplish?Having decided on that, the second step involves reading the back cover, table of contents, and introduction to determine if what you’re reading will accomplish what you need it to accomplish. It seems odd, but the idea is that sometimes the best speed reading approach is figuring out if you want to read a book at all. If you realize that a book won’t teach you what you want to learn, you can skip it and move on. In seminary, I read a book that was loaded with stories that illustrated the ideas in the chapters. When I realized that, I started to skip the stories because they often took 2 pages to explain an idea that only needed a paragraph to express directly. Thus, the first step to reading fast is to just make sure you don’t read stuff that won’t accomplish your goal. This idea transfers well into life. We often spend a lot of time and energy on tasks that have very little to do with our larger life goals. The problem is that we never stop to figure out what our goals are or if what we’re doing helps with hitting those targets in life. I figured this out years ago when thinking about someone who was gossiping about me. I was angry at first, and that anger used a lot of my time and energy. Eventually, I figured out that all that energy was wasted. It didn’t stop the gossip. It didn’t cause the person to stop. It really just distracted me. So I made the conscious decision to not worry about it too much. What was the point? I couldn’t change the situation. There are quite a few areas in life where this idea applies. Most notably, in the area of the news. I used to spend a ton of time being angry about things that happened in the news, but in the end, my anger didn’t accomplish anything. I do more to make the world a better place by working in the community around me than I do stewing about stuff and lashing out at strangers online. This isn’t to say that I should be indifferent to the news, but rather that it needs to receive a proportional amount of my concern. Paying too much attention is foolish. The core idea behind all of this is simple and quite ancient: Figure out what is in your control and what isn’t, and then deal with what you can actually deal with. I can’t control the government in any meaningful way. I can’t control the words or actions of others. I can control me. I can work toward improving my character and striving to be a better man. I can help feed folks who are poor or comfort those who are struggling. I can’t make everyone around me agree with my ideas, but I can come the kind of person that people want to agree with. The idea is put best in the serenity prayer: God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference…

 
 

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