Sunday, June 17

Less Alive?

I don't know why it happens.  It happens every now and again, as though my subconscious was having a conversation about me behind my back, and I accidentally overhear.  A couple of days ago, I had a totally random thought that, for an instant, made me quite concerned.  

SUBCONSCIOUS:  You spend your life reading - delving into someone else's life.  Does that mean you are less of a participator in your own life?  Are you less alive because you escape from your life into dream worlds?  

I hardly knew where to begin in my mental argument against this appalling thought.  Almost as soon as I thought of it, though, my brain swelled up with responses.  

Maybe I do spend a lot of my time living other people's lives through books.  But I ask you the same question that I asked myself.  Have you ever felt less alive, less connected, less human after reading a book?  

Reading gives you a way out, temporarily, from your own troubles.  Escapism.  Perhaps if your entire life was built around this escapism, my subconscious might have had a point. 

But reading is not purely escapism.  It is also interpretive.  By living that story, by becoming connected with that character, you learn something either about yourself, or the world, through the reflection of that story.  Literature is not only a doorway, a portal from our world to another.  It is also a mirror, in which we see ourselves, slightly changed, maybe reversed, but there all the same.  It is a new perspective.  It is fodder for deep rumination, for the digestion of new wisdom and understanding.  

If I had never read a book - if you had never read a book - what sort of person do you imagine you would be.  Think of all the things that you have learned from books.  Think of the people you have met, and the experiences you have had, and then, all the epiphanies, revelations, realisations that you had because of something  you read.  Real incredible life revelations.  

Reading may grow you up mentally - make you wiser - but spiritually, it keeps you young.  You know and have felt things that other people your age have no understanding of.  But you are also more childlike: a wonderer who revels in the beauty of language and of the world itself; a dreamer who can pull the wisdom of a thousand bed-time stories out of their sleeve to decorate their imaginings.  

What on earth was my subconscious thinking, when it asked me if I was less alive because I lives in books.  No.  You probably have a million things to add to my revelation.  No.  We are much much more alive.  

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