In defense of books

Lately, I’ve become more and more aware in my own life (and in the stories of my friends) with how our Netflix watching has — let’s be honest — gotten a little out of control.

I’m probably as guilty as the next person. (Sons of Anarchy, Breaking Bad, House of Cards, Scandal, Marco Polo, Longmire, Frontier, the list goes on…)

But one thing I’ve been noticing is that with the advent of streaming video services such as Netflix, we can feed our escapism desires to an unlimited degree. No longer do we have to wait a week for the next episode to release, as it once did with TV. No, now we can watch episode-after-episode until our heart’s content.

As a matter of act, I met a person this past month who (apparently) literally works and watches Netflix. He’s not married, in fact has never married, and he has no kids. He’s crossing the age of forty and in asking him several questions, he made clear to me that he has no hobbies or things he enjoys doing other than watching Netflix.

In fact, he told me he’d stayed up to two a.m. the night prior and added that when he’s not binge-watching a series, he’s catching up on his sleep because he’s irresponsibly stayed up too late, he relayed with a laugh.

I mean, I kind of get it. And I’m not trying to be judgy here, but there seriously has to be more to life than that.

And while I get we watch to often escape and get through life, while mentally preparing for another day at work that most of us don’t enjoy, for pay most of us need more of, I fear we’re digging holes for ourselves.

As such, I’d like to propose a possible solution beyond simply being more disciplined on how much we watch. My solution is a little old-fashioned or maybe hip? (Old is in, right?)

Yes, dear friend, I’m talking about reading more. We all know that reading has scientific benefits, such as improving vocabulary, sharpening your mind, reducing stress, and preventing cognitive decline in patients with dementia.

But it also gives you more time off and away from work. What I mean is that at least for me and most of my friends, you simply don’t read for as long of periods as you might binge-watch Netflix.

Time slows down when you read and your weekend is extended. No more three-hour sit fests in front of the screen; instead, I’m betting you’ll find yourself reading for a much shorter period, though it’ll feel longer than it actually is.

Often, I’ve gotten engrossed in a book and stopped reading, thinking, “Man, I’ve probably been reading for like two hours.” And almost always, only thirty or forty minutes have passed.

Plus, since it’s difficult to read for as long as you watch Netflix, it’s been my experience that you’ll find yourself doing more chores, dragging yourself out to exercise, etc.

And it’s these activities that lead to a higher over-all happiness.

As Sifu Shi Yan Ming says, “We always want things because we think they will make us happier, but they are just distractions and momentary fixes. True happiness comes from polishing your life. A life of action, not distraction.”

Bottom line, in my very biased opinion, I think books can provide us a better option to consume and enjoy some limited distraction in our modern-day lives.

We only have a very limited amount of time that we’re not stuck at work or at some required event we must go to. We need to maximize and use that time as best we can.

As Ming says, “A foolish person wishes for good things to happen to them, but fortune, success, and happiness, rarely just fall in your lap. You must grasp your life and sharpen it.”

Keep the faith,

Stan R. Mitchell

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Stan R. Mitchell, author and prior Marine, is best known for his Nick Woods Marine Sniper series, which remained in the Top 100 on Amazon for more than three years. The series was also picked up by Audible.com for a multi-book audio deal. Additional works include a Western thrillerdetective series, and World War II story. Learn more at http://stanrmitchell.com.

Where I’ve been.

It’s been a while since I wrote a post on here. In fact, I looked at the date of my last post this morning and realized — with much chagrin — that it was from October of last year. So, nearly three months ago if you round up a tad.

And that really frustrates me because one of my goals has been to get back to blogging more. But it’s a new year and this year I’m going to be much more active on here.

I think a big part of my problem last year was the nasty divisiveness we’ve all lived through politically speaking. It doesn’t matter which side you’re on, you’re probably madder and angrier than you’ve ever been at the other side. And we’ve all seen and experienced this ugliness.

Facebook was less fun in 2017 than it’s ever been, and we’ve probably all had some serious spats with friends or family members over all the news the past year. In fact, I’d almost argue the anger and division we’re going through in this country has nearly killed facebook.

So, probably like you, I spent much of last year trying to bite my tongue and avoid saying what I was really feeling.

Also last year, shortly after that last post I wrote (Don’t ever lose the magic), I found out some devastating news that kept me from posting on here. During a routine vet appointment, I learned my dog Maggie had lymphoma.

I went into that appointment telling myself that she was seven-ish years old (we didn’t know her age because she was a rescue), and I needed to start preparing myself mentally for the fact that she probably only had three to five years left.  I left it knowing she only had mere months to live when they discovered the lump in her throat.

We fought the nasty prognosis as best we could, extending her life for as long as we could without being selfish or cruel to her (I hope), but in the end the vet’s predictions proved absurdly accurate: a perfectly “healthy” dog was attacked unseen from the inside and went downhill remarkably fast.

As most of you know, Danah and I don’t have any kids, so losing Maggie was extraordinarily painful. She was a member of our family and she was my rock and one of my best friends. She knew me about as well as anybody can know me.

She had watched me fight to keep a company alive, she had watched me write many a book, and she was always there to cheer me up or console me or beg me for one more treat or walk or game of ball.

When we received the diagnosis, and later when she passed, I didn’t tell hardly anyone. I didn’t want to post anything on facebook or tell many friends. It was just too painful, and I didn’t want to spread any more darkness in the world. 2017 was already dark enough.

Now, Danah and I are down to two kitties, Clay and Penny. (We lost our other love — a once-in-a-lifetime cat named Toby, who was more dog than cat — just about a year before Maggie.) Clay and Penny are both rescues, but they were feral before we rescued them, so they’re pretty skittish (even two years later).

They only want a little bit of love on most days, and they’re still trying to figure out why Maggie’s no longer around.

But it’s a new year and this year I’ll be posting a lot more. I’m not going to let my political exhaustion and isolation, which I think we’re all feeling, affect my blogging anymore.

I just finished a new book, I’m excited about a few other ones that I’m about halfway through with, and it’s time to get this train back on the track.

If you’re a long-time follower of the blog (and regular commenter), leave a few words below updating me on your life if you want. I’ve certainly missed the community we built on here and I’m hoping you have, too.

And if you’re new, feel free to introduce yourself below. Maybe just share a bit about yourself, how you came across this blog or my books, and anything else you want to add, such as interests, favorite authors or books, etc. I really enjoy getting to know new people who presumably share some of the same interests as me.

I’ll be posting about once a week from here on out, so hopefully, we can get back to having some great discussions (and sense of community) in the comments below again.

Stan R. Mitchell

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Stan R. Mitchell, author and prior Marine, is best known for his Nick Woods Marine Sniper series, which remained in the Top 100 on Amazon for more than three years. The series ​was also picked up by Audible.com for a multi-book audio deal. Additional works include a Western thrillerdetective series, and World War II story. Learn more at http://stanrmitchell.com.