The Word/Idea Connection

When traveling to Portland, Oregon with my best friend, I made many connections. But if a casual observer catalogued only my emotions and anxiety, one might conclude that Portland, Oregon was a royal waste.

Several tours that functioned like deep invitations to a mythical place I had never seen. The tours had rapturous prose about natural wonders hidden in Portland’s city streets. The speakers shared historical districts, cultural insights, elaborate floor-plans, ghoulish traditions, and renowned organizations.

It was painful compartmentalizing my emotions in a new environment. My first experiences needed some coercion. My Southern disposition made Portland seem daunting. I could not categorize the pristine condition of streets, bistros, and buildings. Nevertheless, I soaked it in.

Then, there was Porter’s. As the largest bookstore in the nation within a city block, Porter’s Books made Barnes and Noble seem like a child’s toy truck. Although I spent several minutes scanning every aisle meticulously, I could have stayed right there all day. Regrettably, re-boarding the trolley made one hour seem worthless.

In our hotel, staring at the upbeat, clear, vibrant color of the news broadcasts, I accessed my relationship to Baton Rouge’s local news. Louisiana news carried a homespun irony that every WBRZ, WVLA, and WAFB news show had. Baton Rouge journalism caters to the attention of its viewership.

I did not watch Portland news sifting it, like I often do at home. Instead, I became engrossed in every phrase and clause I heard. When the newscasters covered negative information—-murder, corruption, or death—it was treated with a dispassionate, impartial meekness that caused my jaw to fling open with incredulity. I remember thinking: “Who were these people, and why was I so impressed?”

Then, I remembered. This is Oregon. Maybe, these people are better conversationalists because they read more.

Maybe, there are three basic reasons people think reading is utterly stupid.

I invite my readers to dialogue with me about my assumptions.

I assume these views based on my experience.

1. People are afraid to be challenged. Books function as bullets for faulty logic. Because books echo past and current experience, people worry that experiences might clash with their own.

2. “The reader” always does not always get adequate support. Reading is time consuming and does not match the instant grab of the information age. People lazily go to Google, get an answer, spend a minute reflecting, and move along. A book requires a bit more than just a few keystrokes and taps. Books always allow people adequate time to consider another person’s ideas. You can try a book on, like you do a new suit or new shoes.

3. Readers learn how to tell stories. I’ve often reminded myself that communicating with people is like telling a story. Enduring stories come from people that seek and contribute opinions. Whether explaining history or life, we all tell stories.

People who don’t read face problems sharing in1 events that matter. While a person’s life is limited and not always within reach, we can always reach for a book or an article to update ourselves on things we believe are important to us.

I gravitate to musicians that tell stories well. When an artist’s story gets boring, it’s hard for me to continue being engaged.

It’s more difficult entertaining a person with a reading appetite, because many movies follow literary patterns. A reader’s reaction to a play or book used for a new adaptation is marked with skepticism.

The reader asks questions to not be insulting, but to gain deep understanding of the elements that make a story dull, average, or amazing.

I like rap, but I cannot say I’m easily swayed by the new stars emerging. Some stories rap artists tell are just too predictable. I often wonder why I should believe the story. I guess I’d rather my rap artist reflect something they’ve actually lived, and not something an executive or writer told them would sell records.

And that’s why I connect words with ideas.

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