Sunday, December 7, 2008

The Habit of Reading and the "Dancing Mind Challenge"

As I have posted earlier, I am indebted to my parents, and my mother in particular, for habituating me toward sitting quietly with my own mind either reading or writing, or simply thinking. As a child, I was known for sitting on the sidewalk and watching the ants for long stretches at a time. My mother never disturbed me; or, perhaps she did to call me in for a meal. Nonetheless, she honored my need for solitariness, and often I could finagle my way out of doing housework simply by picking up a book.

Many years ago, Toni Morrison bemoaned the fact that students at some of this country's best universities and colleges unabashedly confessed that they had gotten through high school and their undergraduate studies without as much as reading an entire book. Morrison brought attention to the deficit in reading in our culture, and encouraged all of us to learn to sit alone with our own minds.

This February, in conjunction with Bucknell University, Morrison is inviting college and university students to spend eight hours alone reading or writing during the week of February 18th. Morrison's birthday is February 18th. This is her "Dancing Mind Challenge." Morrison addresses the inability for people to engage in solitary endeavors in her "Dancing Mind" speech that she gave upon accepting the National Book Award in 1996. You can read her speech at

So all us, regardless if we are college and universities students or not, please don't forget to mark your calendar and set aside eight hours beginning February 18, 2009, to sit alone with your own mind and dance with another's.


E. said...

Sounds beautiful.

The world moves so much faster now and so many forces are after your time, attention, etc.

We communicate so much better.

I think that's the real challenge.....instant gratification, stimulation, etc.

Kinda like the microwave....

E. said...

I always feel so much more empowered when I read something though.

Makes me move.