We should all take time to do things that are completely useless, so long as we don't end up subtracting something important. I've recently begun (very slowly) memorizing little poems, things I just want to think about and turn over in my mind, appreciating the little facets and being able to gain a new perspective on it while just walking around.

This is obviously tremendously indulgent – although I suspect many people could take the time, while they walk their dogs or do the dishes. But it's helped me in my larger quest to avoid shallow readings of things. As I've mentioned before, great literature means investing in the process, even though it's just for fun. Even when it's television or movies, which more rarely have intense attention devoted to them. I think the slack of that, the lean-backwards media of yesteryear, can be safely ignored today.

Before, a deep leaning-forward of a story was possible for history, or non-fiction generally, or for religious texts (the distinction from non-fiction is purely Dewey-decimal-ical, not commentary). But it's also always been possible for poetry. And I think, in an age where there isn't quite as much idle pondering of simple things as our complex world requires, the previously unbelievably pretentious act of memorizing poetry is now, perhaps, something we should take care to do.

I recommend beginning with Nothing Gold Can Stay by Robert Frost. Just take the first part, and cycle it in your mind as the colds of winter soak into you on your next walk. Nature's first green is gold, her hardest hue to hold. Just think about it, and walk around, and enjoy the rest of winter, if you can.