A stone for the couch potatoBy Raymund Fernandez
Cebu Daily News
He wonders if he has given his children a vision of what he had gone through on the way to where he is now. He cannot of course help comparing what he used to do with what the children do now. He has to warn himself not to make quick judgements. His children are not necessarily the worse off just because they do things differently.
And to some extent they are doing more or less the same things even if how they do them seems different. There is still quite a lot of reading going on. New technology exerts significant pressure on people to read and write. You need to read and write to do internet or put the cell phone to good use.
It is reasonable to expect that the Internet will increase the number of young people who read and write functionally well. But these new young readers will be reading different things and in a different manner compared to older generations. The generations will be different. Each will have its own peculiar story to tell. But still, he could not quite get rid himself of his worry that there must be a measure of quality applied to the act of reading. He wondered if kids still do good quality reading in this day and age.
After all, even reading positions have changed dramatically. And so too, where and when people read.
His own children did their reading mostly in chairs in front of a computer. They still devote much time to this act. But they do not always read books unless Facebook is now considered a book. But they do read and write. Indeed, he theorized they did more writing now. His own biases told him things are different. But there was also a part of him which said, things must still be essentially the same. Nothing ever changes absolutely. Everything stays the same even if they seem drastically different. And so too with reading and writing.
He still remembers a time when he read himself to sleep. In his teens he redid the lighting system for his room so he could turn off his bedroom lights without having to get up from his bed. He had regular bouts of insomnia when he was young. This act of room design innovation practically ended his suffering. And then he found he slept better if his sleep was induced by a book rather than by television. He just simply felt better rested the next morning. And he always had something to look forward to for the rest of the day.
And here is how he would lay himself out on a couch in front of the television set. The couch was bamboo and required at least 3 large pillows. The couch had arm rests over which a pillow would have to be set. And below that, another one to hold his back. The third pillow? That was purely tanday. (But how do you translate that into English?) The television set blares away but it is only background noise. Set this way, he could go on reading the rest of the day.
He read everything, novels, short stories, essays, picture books on art, even how-to books. He read paperback and hard covers. He read whatever his older sister and friends gave him. He read whatever he could buy at second-hand bargain stores. He had at least two lives, the real one and the lives he travelled to when he read. He was a well-travelled young man who travelled only with his couch.
And from time to time he will still do that. But never enough. And so he wonders if he has set for his kids a good example, a vision even, of what they might achieve with a book and a couch. On the other hand, the children might reply, it would only be as much as might be achieved with a good computer and an ergonomically correct chair. And of course they would be right. Have things become better or worse?
Today he misses his old couch.