The Shame Shelf

GoodreadsDo you use Goodreads? It’s a great site that lets you organize and share what you’re reading or what you’ve read, to review and comment on other people’s reviews, and to get recommendations. I have been on there for a long time and while it mostly just shames me for not reading as much as want to or should, I really love getting my daily list of what all my friends are reading. Every few months I go in and update my shelves. One of those shelves is called ‘gave-up-on’, but I think of it as my Shame Shelf.

There’s only a few books on the Shame Shelf, notably Wicked which just lost me (though I sometimes think I will get back to it), and Shogun (which I started reading many years ago and then had to return to the person who loaned it to me before I was done — but when I finally got my own copy many years later, I ended up ditching it because I found it silly and offensive). Angels & Demons and The Dog Walker are on there for not being well-written and a waste of time. There are also some books I’m even too ashamed to put on the Shame Shelf — working for a theatre company that does adaptation of books, I have to read a lot of stuff (several books for every one book that gets adapted) and sometimes I just don’t finish before they’ve been approved or rejected.

The other day I added Minduflness: An Eight-Week Journey for Finding Peace in a Frantic World to my Gave-Up-On shelf (actually I also added it to my “Read” shelf, but I haven’t figured out how to un-add it there since it was not, in fact, read). And it isn’t because I wasn’t enjoying it. It was because I flipped the Kindle page to Chapter Four and it point blank asked me to set aside 30 minutes a day for the next 8 weeks to do the meditation exercises (actually the first thing it asked me to do was in Chapter 3: eat a lot of chocolate very freaking slowly, and I didn’t do that either because I was not interested in tracking that through Weight Watchers).

I ain’t got it. I know, I know — excuses, but gimme. A flippin. Break. I work full time and commute two hours a day. I am running in a two and a half hour show four days a week (two shows on Saturdays). And for the last month I have made a concerted effort to build 30 – 40 minutes of exercise into at least five days a week. I am sorry, and I am sure it is the kind of thing, like yoga, where investing the time in meditation makes you better at doing everything else in life but until it actually adds real-time hours to the day, I can’t. I need to sleep. I need to see friends and watch television. I need to not do anything every now and then. I need to sometimes not even be beholden to my own journey of self-improvement.

And I am sighing even as I type this because it’s like, “How DARE you ask me to make time for something that will only increase my happiness and improve my state of mind?” No one’s holding a gun to my head, obviously, and it’s senseless to get angry at the book because I am frustrated with myself. I think it’s just the additional humiliation of publicly declaring on Goodreads that I can’t see a way clear to making more time for me (and some people, notably family members, would laugh their ass off at the idea that I am not selfish enough) that’s making this a tough nut to swallow.

But then, the book isn’t going anywhere. And perhaps after my next show closes in July, or August if it extends, I will come back and pick up at chapter 4 and dedicate eight weeks to seeing what this meditative mindfulness is all about.

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