sorry, I didn’t hear you

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “The Zone.”

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When I am reading – whether it is an academic article, a thrilling story, a Twitter feed, or a cereal box – I cannot hear what is going on around me. I could blame it on mild hearing loss (mine is approaching 30% these days*), but anyone who has known me for long will tell you I have always been this way.

When I am reading, the world around me ceases to exist. I become lost in written words, and spoken words can make no dent in my awareness. I’ve always wondered why this is. Is it because I am a visual as opposed to an auditory learner? because of an ADD hyperfocus on things that interest me? or merely because I go into a zone when I read, losing myself in the topic at hand?

When I am reading, people do all kinds of things to get my attention. My husband and child will ask me absurd questions and make me outrageous promises, then laugh when I finally come back to earth with no idea of what has been going on. Co-workers come right into my cubicle, a move which is guaranteed to startle me (and often cause me to shriek), which in turn startles them; they are sure I must have heard them coming, especially if they were talking as they approached.

When I am reading, I lose track of time. I can forget to go to sleep and then I am shocked – SHOCKED! – to find out how late it has gotten. Because I often eat when I read, I often overeat, in the same way you mindlessly put popcorn into your mouth at the movies. (And, believe me, it’s a really bad idea to mix reading with ice cream. I’m sure I can give the credit for many pounds of extra weight to having done so.)

It might seem as though reading is counterproductive for me in many, many ways.

But that’s okay, because more often than not…

When I am reading, I am happy.

* Apparently, mild hearing loss is diagnosed when you have lost 30% of your hearing. My hearing is considered “borderline normal” since I haven’t hit that 30% mark yet in certain frequencies. (D and Q take an inordinate amount of pleasure in telling me that I am borderline normal.)

Open Book” by Reeding Lessons / CC BY