It’s now mid-afternoon and I haven’t said a word to anyone today. It’s the largest chunk of solitude to come my way in a long time, and very welcome. In Mansfield Park, which I am still reading, I really identify with Fanny, who, if she is not talking with her one dear friend and cousin Edmund, likes nothing better than to sit in her own room or walk outdoors where she doesn’t have to take part in conversation.
Her personality and character are in stark contrast to her Aunt Norris, who does whatever she can to enjoy “all the comforts of hurry, bustle, and importance.” And to Mary Crawford, who is fatigued by resting and does not take well to “privacy and retirement.”
The meaning of retirement here is not what most of us nowadays think of, but rather a “withdrawal into privacy or seclusion.” For me, today, it helps that the skies are rainy and I’m enjoying a last chance to wear my cozy flannel shirt as I do what many people in this kind of retirement do: read.
While I and people of my sort may be secluded from people here-and-now, we are very engaged with the author and/or the characters in the book. The National Endowment for the Arts research found that those of us who read are more likely to do volunteer work and to be involved generally in our communities. This kind of rest from one kind of “labor” energizes us for other kinds of work and service.
In the interest of reading a greater variety of books than I can heft while lying down in bed, I bought a Kindle. One of the first books I loaded on it is The Red Horse by Eugenio Corti, a giant of a book in every way. At least ten years ago I was deep into it, as one takes a needed vacation or The Cure at a sanatorium, but I had to give it up, mostly because of its size.
If any of my readers have read good books on e-readers, I’m open to suggestions. Many on my To Read list aren’t available on the Kindle, but it seems there are enough to keep me happy for a while. I definitely won’t be giving up altogether on printed books.
Now I must close and get myself another proper retirement accessory: a big mug of tea.