I want to read three books a day. Besides the obvious challenges with this goal – time, money, limited concentration – there’s a more subtle dynamic that makes it both unfeasible and unnecessary: When I hit a certain level of reflection, I can no longer breathe in. Before I can continue, I have to exhale.
It took me 18 months to finish The Inner Game of Tennis, a short book with a succinct premise – but one that was so densely packed with insight, at least for me, that I had to put it down whenever I got hit over the head again.
When you continue reading after a profound aha moment, you bulldoze it. It’ll be a piece of gum sticking to a random patch of the ever-unfolding tarmac that is your memory. Don’t! Let it sink in. When the plants have enough water, you stop watering. So don’t drown important lessons with a torrent of more information.
Sometimes, exhaling means a day or two of mental distance. Sometimes, it means kneading the dough with a new ingredient. If you’re a creator, it might even mean shipping a new idea, one that’s powered by your latest realization.
Whatever your way of exhaling, don’t forget to do it. Breathe in, breathe out. No matter which side of the road you walk on, you’ll always stay on Living Avenue when you remember breathing is a two-way street.