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I’m Not Giving Up Anything For Lent

I’m an atheist, but a Catholic mother who sent me to Catholic school raised me. So I know all about the Lenten season on the Christian calendar. It represents the 40 days Jesus spent wandering the desert keeping Satan at bay and suffering deprivation. That’s why Christians give something up for Lent. To emulate their god, and prepare for Easter, the Super Bowl of Christian holidays. 

I’m Taking Something Back For Lent

There was a time in my life when I read two or three books a week. Not little books, or light reading—full length, non-fiction—memoirs, biographies, books on world history, religion (I may not believe in god, but I’m fascinated by religion), science, and more. If a particular subject struck my interest, I’d read several tomes on it, until something else tickled my fancy. I read three books on the Nantucket whaling industry alone, a couple on Cleopatra, and a few on The Holy Grail. It wasn’t unusual for me to leave the library limited only by the number of books I could carry with two arms. The bookstore was my crack house.

I had the time back then. It was during my five years at San Francisco International Airport (SFO) as an airfield safety officer. A couple of times a week I would get assigned to escort a crew of workers, and my job was to just sit in a truck and watch them work, keeping them off the runways and taxiways. A crew of people picking up trash between two active runways while 747s, DC10s, and L1011s barreled past. I could easily read my book while keeping them enough in my peripheral vision, always listening to the radios, mentally picturing where every aircraft was on the field or in the air in relation to us. It’s not that I didn’t take my job seriously enough to watch them vigilantly for five or six hours. It’s that they were smart enough to stay sufficiently away from the aircraft movement areas, and I was good enough at my job to multi-task. I promise you, not one of my many charges ever got run over by an airplane.

I left SFO in 2001 to take a job as an airport manager, and I still was reading six or seven hours a day, every day. Only now it was emails and memos, manuals and reports, advisory circulars and regulations. My pleasure reading dropped off dramatically because by the time I had free time, my eyes hurt and my brain was fried.

I’ve never really gotten back into my lifelong habit of reading for pleasure every day. I have upwards of 200 books in my personal library, many that I’ve never gotten around to reading, or started without finishing. Now that I am Mom’s caregiver, I read even less than I did three years ago.

So, while the entire Christian world is sacrificing for Lent, I’m committed to reading for pleasure at least 20 minutes every day. I’m going to get through the hundred or so books on my shelves that I’ve never cracked, but have carted around the country for the past two decades. Then, after I finish each, I’ll post a short book report.

This is my first one. Incognito, The Secret Lives of the Brain, by David M. Eagleman. I’ve started and stopped this book no less than three times.

Man is equally incapable of seeing the nothingness from which he emerges and the infinity in which he is engulfed.

Blaise Pascale, Pensees

While I wrote this post I was:

Listening to – Piece of Mind, by Iron Maiden

Fly, on your way, like an eagle,
Fly as high as the sun,
On your way, like an eagle,
Fly and touch the sun.

Flight of Icarus – Iron Maiden

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