I'm reading Ray Bradbury's famous novel, Fahrenheit 451, and a scene caught my attention.
The protagonist has made up his mind to take an important course of action, but he's afraid to tell his boss. Why?
Because his boss has read a lot of books, and he hasn't read any.
If you want to be stronger, more powerful, and the driving force in your own life, read more books. He asks a well-read friend for help. Tells him that, because he's not well-read, when he confronts his boss, his boss will use all kinds of words and concepts from the books he can mentally access, and it will be too persuasive to overcome in the moment. He needs guidance and coaching from another well-read person to be able to stand firm and navigate the situation.
If you want to be stronger, more powerful, and the driving force in your own life; if you want not to be tossed by every wind, irritated by every opinion, persuaded by every protest, losing yourself in the presence of dynamic people, read more books.
The more concepts, metaphors, and ideas you fill yourself with, the broader your conceptual and verbal language, the better you know yourself and navigate a world populated with the selves of others.
If you don't dive into long-form ideas regularly, you won't know how to think them or respond to them.
If we deprive ourselves of a steady flow of raw material, the end result will be flimsy. I'm not talking about Cliff's notes, tweets, video highlights, or the ever-moving stream of bites and bits. I'm talking about books. The kind you sit with for hours. Work through for weeks. Stare out the window and contemplate. Challenging, big, new ideas.
Filling yourself with even just one or two Aristotles or Miltons will do more for your ability to know yourself, and remain yourself in the face of pressure, than any surface level resolve.
We are craftsmen building a life, and we work in ideas. If we deprive ourselves of a steady flow of raw material, the end result will be flimsy.
Fill up. Get ready to build something that can resist all the pressure to collapse.
Reprinted with permission from the Praxis community private mailing list,.