Rose Keating’s weekly column as published in the Waterford News & Star’s Well! magazine
DO you ever sometimes forget why you love the things you love?
It doesn’t seem like it should be something you should actively have to attempt to remember. It seems like it should be something that should come so easy; if something brings you enjoyment, brings you joy, then why would we ever struggle to remember why? Shouldn’t something as simple as joy and pleasure be easy?
When I let a square of dark chocolate slowly melt on my tongue, all warm and rich and sweet, I don’t have to think too deeply about why this brings me pleasure – why isn’t it always like that? Why should other kinds of joy be more difficult?
By now, reader, if you have read this column before, you might have picked up on the fact that I’m fairly fond of literature, in pretty much any form. Whether it’s books, scripts, poetry, essays, I’ll gobble it all up. Reading it, writing it, editing it – it all fills me with a thrill that is incomparable to anything else in my life. Nothing else makes me happy in the same way – nothing else satisfies me in this exact same way.
‘Sometimes a reading, a really, really good reading, can remind you why you came to love this thing, this business, this art, this pleasure, so very much in the first place.’
Yet I seem to have come to a point in my life where the thought of literature in any form can sometimes make me feel sick. Just the sight of a paperback novel sends a wave of nausea through my body. I break out in feverish sweats upon picking up a pen. The mere act of opening up a Microsoft Word Document is enough to make me feel queasy.
I don’t know precisely when this happened. I think it’s been more of a gradual culmination than a world altering moment of epiphany. There was no final straw that finally broke this camel’s back, but more just an unbearable build-up of straws, weighing me down a bit more each day.
I don’t want to feel this way. I really don’t. But I think it may have been inevitable.
Yes, reading and writing are the things I do for fun. But they’re also the things I want to make a career out of. And they’re also the things that make up the sum of my education. And they’re also the things that make up such a large part of my sense of self. They’re my work, school and play, and I’m beginning to think that it’s not always smart to muddle these areas up.
It’s often said that if your job is something you love, you’ll never work a day in your life – I can’t help but wonder if it simply turns the thing that you love into work.
Last Friday night, I went to Culture Night with two of my friends. While I’d like to pretend that I went to Culture Night because I myself am a cultured lady, full of refined artistic taste, truthfully I mainly decided to go because we had nothing better planned – after all, why not go?
We stumbled across many wonderful things in Cork city that brought a smile to my face that evening; we swayed along with a jazz band on the streets, we watched men quite literally play with fire in heart stopping circus performances, we boogied very badly at a Latin music night. But I think the thing that I loved the most, the thing that has stuck with me almost a week later, was a literary reading we went to – Banshee journal, a beautiful, wonderful journal created by wonderful people were putting on readings from some of the writers from their latest issue.
If I’m being honest, I sometimes find readings a little difficult – I’m not a very good listener, because, let’s be real, I’m a little bit slow as a person. I have to hear something many, many times before it sinks in – I’ve been known to listen to podcast episodes 5, 6, 7 times on repeat because I couldn’t take it all in the first time round. Which is not a luxury we are afforded at a live reading, very understandably.
But, sometimes, a reading can be special. Sometimes, a reading, a reader, can suck all the air out of the room and leave you breathless. Sometimes a reader can make the words ring through the room, until they’re the only thing that matters. Until your heart quickens and goosebumps rise out of every bit of your skin. Sometimes a reading, a really, really good reading, can remind you why you came to love this thing, this business, this art, this pleasure, so very much in the first place.
I was very lucky that this was such a reading, because sometimes, I do forget why I love this beautiful thing that so much of my life is centred around. Whether it’s laziness, or ungratefulness, or just a tendency towards apathy, I let myself forget. I let myself forget that I am lucky to have this thing in my life. I am lucky to read, I am lucky to write. I am lucky to have this pleasure in so many aspects of life. I am lucky to have this thing that can make me feel human, that can make me feel alive.
One day, maybe years from now, or maybe a few weeks from now, I will forget why I love this thing that I love so much once again. But I know that I am lucky to live in a world so overflowing with literature that I’m sure I’ll be reminded why soon enough.