Minimize & Expand

Every now and then, something that happens in my classes resonates with me really strongly.  In this particular instance, it is an exercise in going without a specific distraction (that was up to us) for a week.

I made my decision on Saturday to go without websites that have the infinite scroll. Even WordPress was included in that.  I have been avoiding Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, Instagram, etc.  These were the websites that ate up the time I sat around.  On the bus, at the bus stop, walking to classes, when I woke up, these activities followed me around all day.

And instead of scrolling through stories and pictures, I now had to find ways to be creative or work with my creativity.  As I so often forget, I go to a school with a pretty interesting library.  As soon as Monday morning came around, I was craving something to fill my brain.  Without the constant distractions of social media posts, I had nothing to turn to.  I had few books in my room that I hadn’t read before.  So I turned to the library as a source of help.

This turned out to be an interesting decision.  I picked up Humans of New York: Stories by Brandon Stanton and consumed it less than 24 hours.  But I also picked up a book that looked and sounded fascinating: The Jazz of Physics by Stephon Alexander.  After returning Humans of New York: Stories, I grabbed the third book, Tyler Oakley’s Binge.

While I have yet to start in on the YouTube star’s book, I have sunk my teeth into The Jazz of Physics.  The book’s topic is one of the reasons I picked it up: a look into physics and how the subjects talked about there overlap with the theory and practice of jazz music.  But the implications of such a thought process are also why I picked it up.

I go to a college where a lot of people study a lot of things.  People double major or minor in vastly different things than they majored.  And what about me?  Writing, writing, and some more writing.  Whether I’m reading writing, writing writing, or critiquing writing; I am constantly working with the written word.

And I realized that all English and no math may make me a dull girl.  When I was younger, I thrived off of books about all sorts of things.  I would even read books about spiders and bats, two creatures that I really do dislike (though it is not fault of theirs).  There was no subject that was too much for me.  I asked questions and thought about so many parts of the world at a time.

But I entered middle and high school and thought of the world in terms of my core classes: history, math, writing, language, science, and art.  This still seems like a lot, but the American school system puts a large emphasis on testing, and all these subjects were narrowed even further under that lens.  I hated reading anything I was assigned because I didn’t want to memorize and regurgitate facts.  Homework was boring.

Come to college and I narrowed my focus even further while expanding it.  I focused on writing and reading and thought past tests.  I let subjects bleed together (when I was taking more than English classes, at least) and life was getting more interesting.  But that focus on English changed what books I read (ones on creativity and craft) and what I talked to people about (literature, movies, stories).

So I grabbed The Jazz of Physics because I don’t want to leave college only thinking of writing.  I want to come out thinking about the world beyond writing, the people behind writing, and the theory behind some topics in writing.  I want to come out of this with the need to constantly learn.

And so far, during a week where my social media usage is restricted, I have found that the best place to learn was something I always had at my fingertips.  So even after this week, I may opt for a book with my coffee instead of the onslaught of political and silly Facebook posts.

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