Sunday, September 15, 2013

Books and a heart like a child

I have a plan for not getting too stressed out this year. It involves letting Sunday be a sabbath (even if that means lots of homework on Saturdays), taking walks, eating healthy (the part of the plan that is dropped the quickest), and, most importantly, reading books.

I did a lot of reading this summer, but I didn't really need it like I've found I do right now. This summer I had lots of introvert time. When I'm constantly surrounded by people, though, there's no retreat so convenient as escaping into a book. This is something I've been keenly aware of since about first grade.

I'm hardly the only person who, as a child, discovered books as a means of traveling to other worlds. There are books about children who love books -- even movies about children who love books. Sometimes, to emphasize the point, children literally travel to other worlds through books. Something else I've found, though, is how books can change the world I live in. I suppose they do that by changing me.

Whenever I read a book, I see its ideas finding echo in my daily life. I start hearing words that I might otherwise have forgotten. I start to interact with physical objects with the knowledge that they are really part of the universe. The smells and tastes of life start rooting me ever more firmly in reality even as they open my imagination. And because of this, all the books I've ever read have changed my life.

I spent most of today rereading The Legend of Luke, one of the books in the Redwall series by Brian Jacques I adored when I was younger. Today I realized that in literally every chapter the band of adventurers encounters an enemy, makes new friends, or both. Looking back, I'm pretty sure all of the ones I read were exactly like that. (I think there are three I haven't read.) There are many other things that are consistent between the books: silly dialects, an excess of songs and poetry, enormous amounts of attention given to food, and the knowledge that you will meet the counterparts of all the groups of creatures in the past books. This makes every story pretty much the same. However, my nostalgia meter is floating high, and I couldn't have loved it more.

Sometimes you need to be re-inspired. Sometimes you need to be reminded that good people go on adventures and fight evil. Sometimes you need to rejoice in a story filled with childlike innocence, and by that become a little more childlike yourself.
Fairy tales are more than true — not because they tell us dragons exist, but because they tell us dragons can be beaten. -- G.K. Chesterton
Man cannot live on bread alone. He needs stories to feed his heart as much as he needs the Word to feed his soul.

No comments:

Post a Comment