"I know you like to read during your vacations," she said. "This time, don't use your Kindle. Don't use your phone, iPad or laptop. Read actual books instead--books made from paper, with real pages and covers."
It seemed whimsical, at first, like when people pine for the good old days when you had to rent a VCR just to watch a movie. I have fond memories of those outings, but I still prefer Netflix to Blockbuster.
It also seemed impractical--why would I want create luggage space for three or four books when I can carry all of them on a device that fits comfortably in my back pocket?
Then she explained herself, and it all started to make sense. I think her reasoning applies to busy entrepreneurs everywhere, so I thought I'd share it here:
1. "Time is money" isn't always a profitable mindset.
I'm going on vacation, so you'd think I'd be escaping a "time is money" mindset by definition. That isn't necessarily the case. All I'm doing is transporting my body from one locale to another.
This new locale is more exotic, to be sure, and certainly more dangerous (have you seen the lists of things that can kill you down under?). But if you're anything like me, novelty alone is never enough to take you out of yourself long enough to really connect with what's in front of you.
I associate my devices--Kindle, laptop, phone, etc.--with speed and convenience. They're the ultimate time-savers. A traditional book, on the other hand, offers nothing but the information between its covers to recommend it.
I can't approach it with an ulterior motive (to fill a few minutes waiting for an email, for example). I don't have 1,000 other titles to choose from with a flick of my thumb--I've made my choice, and I have to stick with it.
This means I'm incredibly selective about which books I bring with me. I do my homework, homing in on titles that truly catch my interest, or on authors who've been recommended by people I trust. I find the process incredibly satisfying, and when I finally lie back to enjoy what I've picked out, I can devote myself to it completely.
2. I'm not getting away from it all if I take it all with me.
The folks who pine for Blockbuster have a point. Back in those days, movie night was an event. You set aside your whole evening for it. You were super picky about what you took home with you, knowing you had to live with it once you did.
You even found virtues in terrible movies, because you'd actually sit there and watch them all the way through. Today, if a show doesn't catch your attention like the first drop of a roller coaster, you keep looking until you find one that does.
To add insult to injury, even great entertainment is subject to ceaseless interruptions. When was the last time you watched a whole movie without answering a text or reading a message on LinkedIn?
A book--that relic of the past that overthrew empires and leveled the playing field for everybody--offers none of that. It requires a definite adjustment to focus when your brain is expecting intermittent alerts that some update, headline, or colleague demands your attention, but the peace of mind that comes with turning the corner is worth it.
3. My brain needs a break as much as my body.
I tend to be aware of my body's limitations, even if I often push those limitations right to the edge. I know that I need sleep, exercise, recreation, and healthy food. I'm told that I owe it to my family, customers, and coworkers to keep myself fit.
I try to act accordingly. I haven't eaten a dessert in years. I choose my hotels based on whether a gym is available, and I'm pretty faithful about sneaking in a workout several times a week.
My mind is a whole other ballgame. It's easy to forget that it needs a little loving care, too. It's continually bombarded by life's demands, whether that's fundraising or child-rearing or simply catching up on the news.
To open a book is to meditate. I'm alone with the author. There are no pop up ads to compete with the narrative; no phone calls to interrupt a unique voice systematically unfolding its story.
It's a beautiful thing. It's a conscious act of resetting, like when you reboot your computer and a bunch of nagging errors magically disappear. I'm sure I'll return to my Kindle as soon as I'm back from vacation. For now, though, it's just me and the waves and the sound of turning pages.