Balancing Act: As the world reopens, a person can read only so much – The Columbus Dispatch

I used to feel insulted when my passionate recommendation for “the best book ever” was met with “Honestly, I don’t have time for another one.”
“How could anyone pass this up?” I wondered.
Now, emerging (hopefully) from pandemic to endemic living, I get it. I have Zoomed my way into so many online study groups, book groups and let’s-reconnect groups that I had to buy a special book tower to keep all the assigned or recommended volumes straight.
There’s a shelf for the book group novel du jour and recommended future ones, another for hefty tomes on social justice with related PDF files and still another for all the volumes on how to age well – each shelf prompted by one or more online groups.
A few dozen women in my college class, Zooming once a month, have produced enough book and hobby recommendations to fill a century. Back in the dorm, I remember mostly studying, dating and playing bridge, but these women since have filled their days with such worthy intellectual and artistic pursuits that I oscillate between pangs of guilt and laziness.
The women who used to meet in person every month – with international potluck dishes – to support women’s micro-businesses have for two years met almost always online sans food and – yep – invariably veered into book recommendations.
Balancing Act:Routines establish patterns ‘robots’ can follow
The aging mastery women, meeting mostly online twice a month, dutifully have read a book every month or so about brain science, exercise and joy and have challenged each other to be accountable for doing whatever the author of the month has recommended – anything from drinking more water to immersing ourselves in cold showers.
Don’t get me wrong. I like to read and be informed and inspired and on top of what my friends are talking about. But to be honest, my zeal for knowledge was much keener in the old days when the monthly book group was rewarded with hors d’oeuvres and dessert that matched the plot or setting of the book, and I am thrilled to get back to all the accompanying snacks.
When book group reconvened the other night to discuss “Little Fires Everywhere,” I was ecstatic to bring homemade hot fudge sauce as a nod to the Shaker Heights ice cream store just around the corner from the main character’s house. 
Although online groups have had ingenious ideas – bring your own cocktail or have it delivered along with a one-person charcuterie board – it was just not the same.
But now, in the current moment, there also is a transition to be reckoned with – the passage from the time of lockdowns into the apparent pleasant reality that we can be together again, which involves both dressing and travel time. There is not unlimited time to read books in groups or watch movies and videos and podcasts that others have recommended. It takes a while to make the fudge sauce and the Haitian Makawona Au Graten.
Yet still, the book and movie and podcast recommendations and the guilt for not following them continue to stream in – if not from the in-person meetings then from the inbox, with tantalizing titles like “Opportunity to make a difference” and “Zoom link – lunar chanting.” Something’s got to give, and I’m struggling to figure out what.
After all, in blank moments, making dinner or doing the laundry or exercising, I now have an entire pandemic library to draw on.
I have much to learn about the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders or the origins of cancel culture.
“I could listen to a podcast! Or an audiobook! Or watch a video!” I tell myself and promise to put all the links in some handy folder somewhere so I can immediately and effortlessly make every moment count.
But somehow I never do this. Or maybe, as I simply fold sheets or make the tacos in silence, I do.
Balancing Act author Pat Snyder is a Beechwold resident and life-balance speaker and coach. Read her work at patsnyderonline.com.


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