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Brookhaven College employee newsletter: Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Reading: The App for Life

Reading: The App for Life

"A Book is Like a Blank Canvas"

By Shani Suber, Communications Division faculty

"Reading, The App for Life" has encouraged me to write this editorial about how reading ignites my metacognition. My mind raced in so many different directions thinking about the possibilities. "What does reading mean to me?" What a powerful and reflective question! Like movie credits, two phrases flashed through my mind: mental imagery and personal interpretation.

When I pick up a book, I feel as if I am lifting a blank canvas. Just as a painter looks at a blank canvas, a reader begins a book. The book eagerly awaits the connection of what the author has written and crafted and how the reader will interpret and understand. The artist pours their ideas and creativity into the bristles on the paintbrush to marry the paint with the canvas. Like an artist, the writer uses a pencil, keyboard or typewriter to imprint words that act as a portal to guide our imagery while reading. The book reveals the masterpiece. I love descriptive words that illuminate the pictures I can imagine. For me, the book becomes an open door to the writer's ideas and a window of possibilities for mine. Reading is about reflecting, connecting and projecting thoughts based upon what I have read.

Many years ago, I had the opportunity to read a profound poetry piece titled The Dash by Linda Ellis. Naturally, as a writing instructor, the title alone piqued my interest, as a dash is a mere punctuation mark that separates as well as connects ideas. Lewis Thomas once said, "The dash is a handy device, informal and essentially playful, telling you that you're about to take off on a different tack but still in some way connected with the present course."

The beginning of Ellis' poem had a striking resemblance to my own life. It quickly grabbed my attention in the first stanza, as the author vividly captured the memory of a man speaking at his best friend's funeral. He spoke about the dates that would be imprinted on her tombstone. Often, all people see are the dates that represent the birth and the death of a loved one. However, the dash represents and focuses on the life lived. Ellis' inspiration for the The Dash started from reading about this person's experience. With each word I read, I reflected upon my personal experience similar to that which had inspired Ellis.

The connection to my personal life started to emerge from the imagery of the many stories that connected each chapter. The imagery provoked thoughts about what makes me happy, what represents my happiness, and how I share that happiness with others. With each chapter, a story was written to paint a picture from the lives that represented each trait. It was a journey that taught me that small moments often imprint lasting memories in my heart.

As I neared the end of the book, I read another story about a young girl who had lost her best friend. It was at that point when I realized the start of The Dash and the end of the book highlighted an important message. That message was simple. We must choose to inspire, to uplift and to impart qualities or characteristics that will live beyond our time.

I have had the privilege of sharing my life with someone special who is now gone. She was my best friend, and she exemplified these qualities. We were friends for twenty-four years when she lost her battle with Lupus. When she was living, she connected with others, whether she was at home, in a store, or in the hospital. She taught me the importance of taking pauses in life to experience and to appreciate people. Even during our most challenging times, we must take a moment to recognize those around us and to impart to them a positive and uplifting presence.

At some point in life, everyone will lose someone special. We should want others to know and understand the privilege, the honor and the impact they have made in our lives. Always live your dash and share the special qualities others have shown you. The small pauses in life are often the ones that leave us with the greatest memories.

Reading The Dash was truly an experience for me! It was the blank canvas that inspired me to create this editorial. I also thank the many writers at Brookhaven. Your editorials, words of inspiration, and the power of your experiences have fueled my writing as well. If you are not an avid reader, I encourage you to become one, so that you, too, can enjoy many undiscovered masterpieces.