In the age of smartphones, it seems nearly impossible to sit quietly without distraction.
It is an interesting phenomenon, when we become so reliant on our devices to distract us, we do not allow our minds to simply wander or relax and observe.
I was considering this recently, as I sat in a waiting room at the hospital (minor injury and tetanus booster, but that is another story) and perused my phone.
My phone is a bit overloaded at the moment, and so it was too slow to access anything on the internet, I decided it was not worth it and put it away.
But then I was sitting there staring at the reading material on the wall (Tetanus toxoid, Influenza and more…) and wondering where the magazines are.
Does this mean because there are sick people in hospitals, they no longer have magazines because the magazine could help spread infections?
Man, now what does a person do to entertain themselves?
I used to often carry reading material with me for such occasions, but I seem to be so pacified by my phone I no longer think of this option as often.
However, today, when the internet was for some reason so slow and intermittent I had to give up and focus on other things, I decided to think about what I would have done when relaxing at home before I became so attached to my laptop and smartphone.
I would most definitely have been reading.
Of course, this is not to minimize the importance of getting up and doing other fun things outside, but the pleasure of a good book is not only one of life’s greatest pleasures, but it is also conveniently portable and you can do it while waiting for things like immunizations from the lovely local nursing staff.
This summer, I was in the library for work and noticed a new book by author Isabelle Allende, an author who lives in California but grew up in the South American countries of Peru and Chile.
Allende wrote Daughter of Fortune, a great book about a woman during the California gold rush, who travels to San Francisco in search of her lover.
Daughter of Fortune was a beautiful historical fiction and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Based on that read, seeing Maya’s Notebook, I decided to give it a try.
Maya’s Notebook also draws on Allende’s own background as a woman who lived in Chile, and her connection to California as well, where Allende now lives.
I was very disappointed with some of the treatment of different experiences in her main character’s life, the oversimplification of what for any real person would have been severely traumatic experiences seemed to defy reason to me.
The information her main character, Maya, managed to dig up on the capture and torture of her benefactor Manuel, seems also a bit hard to fathom in some ways.
After spending much of the story establishing how much denial and burial of the mass disappearances and persecution of some people under the rein of General Augusto Pinochet, it seems it might not be so easy for a young woman to walk in and access specific details of Manuel’s torture and captivity.
But these factors aside, the story was still compelling, and there were some truly human moments in it. Maya’s experiences in Las Vegas were horrific, but give an imagined glimpse into the dark underbelly of drug addiction and organized crime, however fictional.
While Maya’s Notebook is not the best of Allende’s works, it is a decent read and just one way to unplug and enjoy some down time this summer, whether on a rainy day indoors or at the beach.