Friday, September 24, 2021

Valderrama: When was the last time you read a book?

CAN you remember the last book that you have read? Reading is a simple and meaningful activity, but it has become a least priority to many.

These are the real situations now: People prefer to watch films and shows rather than read a book, some people only get information in Facebook statuses or watch online broadcasts for news, people would rather listen to someone sharing the story than reading the story itself.

What happened to develop the habit of reading? I remember way back in the 80s, my mother converted one room in our house into a library since she was fond of buying 20-volume encyclopedias and other sets of books.

I guess that was the only recreation at the time. I can remember the first sets of books that I read in our library -- Disney’s Wonderful World of Knowledge in 20 volumes with white hardbound cover and My Bible Friends in 10 volumes. I am sure people my age can relate to that.

It was then that the love for reading grew in me. I must admit I don’t read books all the time, but I have memorized Desiderata since it was the big poster on the wall. And I had my favorite line – “If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.”

This reminded me to be at peace with myself. I do not need to have what others have; I just need to be happy with what I am.

This is the beauty of reading. You will learn a lot and you can reflect on life.

Reading is important that’s why our public schools advocate Bawat Bata Bumabasa or known as the 3Bs. Improving reading programs has been the priority of the Department of Education since knowing how to read and understand what you’re reading are the basic tools for lifelong learning.

Adults too need to continue reading. It can reduce stress, lower blood pressure and heart rate, fight depression symptoms, and even prevent cognitive decline as you age.

Even if you are too busy with school or work requirements, you can always allot 10 to 15 minutes reading some pages from a book or some relevant stories on the internet. It is just a matter of making it part of your routine.

There are books that remain my favorite because some lines reflect so much about life. In this way, I become reflective too.

First on the list is The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. This was first published in 1943 and the book is still on the bookstore shelves. This is appealing to kids, teens and adults.

My favorite line here -- “It is only in the heart that one can see rightly, what is essential is invisible to the eye.” I have always taken this line by heart. This is also connected to the next book that one should not miss reading: Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach.

This book allows us to imagine how to fly. It is just like saying we can all be so much more than we believe.

You can read these lines: “Don’t believe what your eyes are telling you. All they show is limitation.” So, this is just like what the Little Prince said. And every time I am doubtful to things I cannot do, I always remember the lines in this book, “You must begin by knowing that you have already arrived.”

Hope for the Flowers by Trina Paulus is one good book too about flying. You can read this in an hour or two because the book is more on illustrations. “How does one become a butterfly?”

This is just like saying how will you become the way you should be. What do you have to do to grow, to shine, to fly? God gave us invisible wings to fly. These invisible wings could be in the form of people in our lives like our family and friends. And sometimes God gives us just one wing to look for our other wing so we can fly together.

Another book that I cannot forget is Tuesdays with Morrie by the famous Mitch Albom. Morrie said, “What if today were my last day on earth?” This leaves us so many answers, but only our experiences could speak.

This speaks of gratitude, of what we could say and do while we still can. I remember that every time I share the story of Popoy, a sample story in my book titled SHE (Significant Human Experience), the audience, mostly my students or the participants in the training, would cry while listening.

It was the story of my father, Popoy, whom I took care of when he was sick, but I never said “I love you” to him even once. We were both so silent and the words were just too loud for me. He died in front of me, and I could only say “I love you” in a whisper. So, I learned that saying ‘I love you” while I still can is the best opportunity God has given me, but I remained silent.

All these books have given me good experiences in life and have helped me see things from many perspectives. These are just some of the benefits of reading. Do you have your share of best experiences too? Maybe, it’s time to read again.


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