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                                             Slowing Down…

Good afternoon dear reader & welcome to my world for another week. Following on from my comments a couple of weeks back on understanding capacity, over this holiday period, I was reflecting on how many books I read during the year. A few years ago, dissatisfied with how little I read, I figured a good goal would be to read more books the next year. So I set a goal & read more books.

But after the first year of tracking, I realized a defect in my goal: aiming to read more books in a year incentivized me to read shorter books & avoid longer ones, since this would reduce my total book count. How silly, I realized. The point of reading books is reading books worth reading, not reading as many as possible. So I changed my reading goal from books read per year to pages-read per year. This meant I could read any book of any length I thought worth reading without affecting my goal.

But after a couple years of this, I realized another goal defect: aiming to read more pages per year has incentivized me to read or listen to books faster thereby resist reflecting & meditating over what I am reading, since it would reduce my total page count. This was silly too. The point of reading is learning in order to increase understanding, not reading as many pages as possible. Again, I hit respectably close to my goal, but I am still shooting wide of the mark.

So I have made another goal adjustment. I will get to this point in a minute. Why Slow Down?
Reflecting on this little experiment highlights four reasons why we need to slow down & cultivate the spiritual fruit of patience, especially in the twenty-first century.

Firstly, we are pursuing transformation, not information. People might be impressed by how much information we have stored away. However, in reality has one been transformed? The point of all our reading, is not the fact we merely learn about something, but we actually learn the craft, so to speak; bearing fruit in every good work & increasing in the knowledge. 1

Secondly, real growth takes a long time. We live in an age of fast transportation, fast computers, fast Internet access, fast food, fast videos, & fast social-media ~ & they are all only getting faster. This is shaping our assumptions. We expect to be able to do everything at faster speeds & greater volume.

If we look at our own growth, we perhaps should ask why we are in such a hurry. In my own case I see how patience almost exasperates me at times. If we look carefully, we see the most important things take a long time to grow & mature. They cannot be rushed.

Thirdly, goals matter & develop over time. We set goals in an effort to obtain what we value, which means they are very important. Goals reveal what our desires are. They also determine the strategies we choose to achieve them. And these strategies determine how we spend our time. Goals dictate how we spend our lives. But we rarely determine the best goals with one shot. It often requires the slow process of learning to clarify exactly what we want & what this requires.

We cannot love what we do not take time, consider appropriately & linger over. And we cannot know what we do not comprehend. Comprehension requires time-consuming concentration & meditation. This is true in nearly all areas of life. Typically & regretfully, the implications are real or perceived & in this societal pressure we feel to get more & more things done, processing more & more information, can be an enemy to real life & true learning.

This is why for the 2017 year I have decided to set my reading goal by hours spent, rather than pages read. I want to stop aiming at volume so I am freer to consider, meditate, memorize, & record what I need to press deeper into my soul.

I may get to the end of this year & realize once again my reading goal needs to be tweaked. Perhaps new life-demands will require a different goal altogether. This too will be okay, because my aim is to be changed. I want my reading to help me better learn the craft & not just about the craft. And one thing my defective goals have taught me is how much I have to learn about moving at a more appropriate speed & one of patience.

Thank you for taking the time to be with me once again. I hope my journey may encourage you also. This is Kenn Butler in Paradise, Nelson, with my best wishes for your week ahead.

1    Colossians 1:10


Kenn Butler
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