Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Entertainment vs. Experience

I'm a big fan of Barnes & Noble (and most other bookstores for that matter). My usual route through the store includes a swing by the sports section (depending on my latest endeavour I may glance through books on backpacking the Appalachian Trail, bicycle commuting, wilderness survival, et al), then make a pass through the language section (somehow I feel I will pick up all six forms and sixteen tenses of each of hundreds of Spanish verbs by osmosis, just by being near the dictionaries), next a shuffle by the Moleskine section to determine if I really need ANOTHER notebook, then a quick check to see what's new in the business section, and finally I finish up by reading a bunch of magazines (NG Adventure, and a number of tactical handgun magazines being among my favorites). Overall, a nice afternoon of entertainment.
What all of the books and magazines in the world can't give you, as you peruse their pages, is experience. I may get some good ideas from books and magazines, pick up a couple of tactical tips (like in the latest annual edition of Weapons and Tactics magazine where one article refers to a handful of innocuous items which can be used as weapons yet carried right through airport security such as a solid metal Washington Monument figurine which could do some serious damage if used correctly), and find some interesting ways to improve/expand my business but just reading these things does not provide what is most important: experience.
In order to change your afternoon's entertainment into useful experience, you need to take the next step by taking what you have learned from books and magazines and actually putting it to work. Instead of just reading a book on learning a foreign language, find a group that meets to practice speaking the language. Instead of reading about tactics for clearing a house, practice doing so (preferably when the spouse and kids aren't home so they won't think you have lost your mind). Instead of reading about other's grand travel adventures, dust off your passport and go somewhere.
Reading for entertainment is a great way to wile away an afternoon, but consider taking the next step and actually using the things you learn from the multitude of books and magazines available to improve your life, your health, your safety, and your skills.

1 comment:

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