“Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read. One does not love breathing.” — Harper Lee
Not living in the moment, with the moment, with the things at the moment, will hurt your ability to be intelligent and comprehend what is happening.
I noticed this while reading the other day, I believe it was Michel de Montaigne's Essays. Mind me, but it feels like old speak to me. It’s hard for me to grasp and understand what he is saying sometimes. But, as I was reading, I suddenly understood why, and I understood why I have a hard time understanding other books as well, and people, and moments and work, for that matter.
The reason for my struggle was that I wanted to understand things before time. I have o confess that I have a terrible flimsy faith in my short-term memory, and I read as if I were to forget everything if I didn’t quickly rehearse in my mind what I just read, to be sure that I was understanding what I was reading.
What this additional mental action did, was give an additional burden to my brain (that of rehearsing on top of reading) that inhibited me from being able to just focus on the actual words that my eyes were looking at.
I am trusting my short-term memory a bit more now. I only focus on the couple of words that my eyes are reading as they move. I trust that my brain is going to form meaning on its own without the necessity of constant reflection.
It’s the same for everything else by the way. As I write this, for example, I am concerned with keeping my train of thought somewhat together, I believe now that it is counter-beneficial to try to find a cohesive meaning of the entire text, that’s a job for a complicated part of ourselves that we do not have a lot of control in, the part which forms meaning out of experience. Best thing we can do is to put attention to what we are doing, on those, beautiful words.