I've been on a binge-reading obsession of late, mainly because I'm bed-ridden from sickness, but I learnt something interesting in my 3 weeks of fanatical reading that has actually started to help me deal with things in my life (Depression, anxiety, trials, and how I see other people are some examples!)
I'm excited to share it with you.
It's been a nice break away from everything that plagued me day-to-day, to be able to take a step back and re-evaluate the perspective of it. Think of it as a mini-vacation from the home of my room.
Whenever I wasn't sleeping, I was either on the computer researching more books to get, or reading. And within these 3 weeks, a lot of things has clicked with me. A lot of things has stirred me and made me feel torn, confused, and in a sense, guilty.
For the past couple of months, when I started really feeling bad with life itself (See my blog entry about depression and 'Simply Coping'), I started turning to Fandoms and reading books. It was my outlet, and brought me a lot of joy, but wasn't very productive and I was often running to find the next thing to do when I finished the last one. After awhile, I started feeling really guilty about not using my time more wisely (An often annoying trait of mine) and how I was spending so much money on books. I had decided one night that enough was enough, I was going to read the last of the books that I had bought and then it was done. I would only read about a book a month, to keep things balanced.
One night, after having staying up all night to read more about Percy Jackson and his adventures, I fell asleep and had a curious dream. In a forest somewhere, I was standing next to a bonfire, throwing one book at a time into it (Often in my dreams, I am either watching myself from the outside of my body, or I am seeing through the perspective of myself. It jumps frequently, but in a dream I don't normally question it). I had been visibly crying, but was adamantly throwing these books in. I was watching myself, but I was feeling everything. I felt the pain, the guilt, and all the memories that stemmed from these books. I continued burning them for a few silence filled moments, then someone came running out of the bushes nearby frantically. I didn't seem shocked, or frightened, but more so confused and inquisitive as to what and who it was. I hesitated to throw in another book, but just as I began to turn to drop it in, out from the bushes came Percy Jackson himself, with Riptide (His sword in the books) in his hands. He looked panicked, anxious as he frequently looked over his shoulder and around him, and a bit roughed up. He spotted me, and ran over to grab the book before it fell in. I jumped back a little back from the abrupt snatched book, and I stared at him. He frantically looked down at the book, then back at me.
"What are you doing?!" his voice cracked a bit as he shouted, I placed one hand on my hip and the other to wipe away tears that were racing down my face.
"I can't keep them. They are distracting me from real life" I responded, managing to slip another book past him and into the fire. He stared at the crackling and popping papers that were rolling with blackness into itself within the flames. He took a sudden step towards me and I flinched slightly, expecting violence or a tongue lashing.
"What do you mean, real life? Do you think these things are written from nothing? That they aren't real, don't mean anything, and are just a little bit of FUN?"
"Yes. I do. There are no such things as wizards, witches, vampires, dystopian worlds where teenagers are the change against a war! It was fun while it lasted, but it couldn't be forever. I need to grow up, I can't keep reading and believing in things that aren't realistic" my voice was firm, and I pushed past him to throw an armful of books that had magically formed in my arms.
Percy Jackson ran his hands through his hair in frustration and was trying to find the words that was going to convince me of some truth that I wasn't aware of yet.
Finally, he reached his breaking point and threw Riptide aggressively to the ground. I watched him, an eyebrow raised in concern but also in an attempt to challenge him. Then...the next words he spoke hit me almost as if he himself took up Riptide and striked.
"Ashleigh, these books aren't fictional. Sure, wizards or vampires might not be real, but the principles are. Power does corrupt, even those who do not think they could be. Love is a driving force, not weakness. To grow old is a privilege not given to all" as he spoke, characters who I had grown attached to and had cried over when they fought bravely and died filled the forest's tree line. They stood together, silent and with a glint in their eyes. I recognised that made had not made it to the age of 20 before they had died.
"Whether you realise it or not, it's real. It may not be real in sense that you are real, but they live through you and everyone else who brings their world to life when you open the book. You learn things, you learn how people may betray and why they resort to it, you learn what people are capable of, and what they aren't. You learn to empathise with them, to learn how to look through the eyes of someone else...Books aren't a waste of time, they are time, history, placed in a setting which shows to you these principles. Wizards and werewolves may not be real, but liars and hypocrites are. Books bring a mirror to the face of humanity and makes it look at all its flaws and virtues, to see all the ugly and beauty it contains, then asks - "Where do you go from here?"
Someone once asked me what books meant to me, and why I loved reading them so much. They asked as someone who never found much joy in reading, and preferred 'living the world, not reading about it'. I have been asked this question in countless different ways, and at different ages, so all my answers have been different. Some ranging from, "Because they're awesome and you're a poopy head!" to, "Because to read about pain, is to feel pain, and to feel pain is to empathise with one who is experiencing pain" (That was my early teens, trying to be impressive but ultimately leading myself through a circle of how pain is pain, and if pain is pain, then we are pain...etc). But something that has always stuck in all my answers to that question is that books mean a lot to me because they have always been there. Just like how music can twist the soul, making it sing and your body feel the rhythm, or how dance helps those who might not be able to express themselves through word, express their deepest and darkest feelings through dance.
I still struggle with the idea of 'balance', to do a little bit of this and a little bit of that and have it be balanced. I'm either 100% one way or 100% the other way, which makes for a lot of single-mindedness and obsessive nature. If Percy Jackson can tell me though that reading is, in fact, not a bad thing and not something that wastes your time, but actually helps you to be a better person through widening your horizons of understanding, patience, perspective, and empathy, then why don't more people read?
Reading takes me out of my comfort zone and forces me to look deeply at the person that I am, the things I stand for, and if I would die for them. It asks me what my priorities are, and if I'm treasuring the things that I take for granted until they are gone. It puts me into the shoes of another person whose whole life is different compared to mine, and makes me appreciate the strength that some people have to have every day in order to survive through it.
I often reflect on if things are getting out of my control, if I've become the servant to the thing I once considered myself to be the Boss of and if I've started to rely on it much more than I realised I did. It could be TV shows, Movies, Fandoms, Books, People, Ideas, or even Goals. I guess that's what brought on the idea that I was going to limit my book reading, and let it not tie me down...but after having that dream, I realised that books don't tie you down, they let you be free in your imagination and in your ideas. They release you from the bounds that Society can pressure us to feel or think, and let's us truly think if we agree with it or if we mindlessly follow it.
I find that the most important things to me in life is: My relationship with my Heavenly Father, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Family, Friends, and Books. The top 5, if you will. While everything else is chaotic and sometimes as if canons are going off, these 5 things are the solid foundation that keeps everything stable for me.
Just like how some people are really into sports and fitness, I am one for Writing and Reading. I love the concept of it, that these ideas and thoughts and feelings are all combined between this cover and sold as a book.
So I'm going to continue letting books be a huge part of who I am, and let it continue to help me be a better person...and if anyone else ever says, "You're too obsessed with books! You need to live in the real world!" I shall just throw a book at their face, apologise to the book, and walk away while quoting from 'S' by J.J Abrams, -"Find what you love. Then fight like hell when people try to take it away from you" -
SO! A brilliant idea that popped up to make this blog entry was to make a list of the things that books taught me. I've also enlisted the help from friends such as; Sam Waddoups, Savannah Dias, and Mara Glass.
- Books have taught me that no matter who we are, we all experience trials. These up-and-down rides in our life which can either make or break us. No one is exempt from this, and we cannot expect a happy life where nothing happens. If you've ever read a book, there is always some kind of drop, challenge, fiasco, that leads the main characters onto this journey. It's never a good challenge, and it creates a lot of fear or opposition (Volunteering from your little sister in the Hunger Games, finding out that Voldemort is back, being told that you're Divergent and being hunted, a guy named Mr. Darcy), these challenges push these characters to think on their feet, to hold onto hope, and to be patient until something HUGELY bad happens and it seems almost as if all hope is gone, and that it's the end (Kronos coming back from Tartarus, the enemy armies are killing and destroying your army, your prejudice insults the pride of someone else which leads you to not speak with him again), but then something happens, the characters push through and do what it takes to get through the trial, and in the end, things work out. It's never FULLY happy again, some people will suffer and some may go astray, but you come out of these experiences a different person.
- Books have taught me about Love. Love can either be a strength or a weakness, depending on how you lean upon it. Love has saved characters, brought characters back, and helped characters get over their trials and to come out at the end. Used wisely, love is the greatest force that we have in this Universe. (Suggestion from Savannah Dias)
- Books have taught me that people are still people, no matter what they do or what they look like. Everyone has struggles, just some people show it differently from others. Books provide an insight into the way that all humans deal with problems, and emphasise that we are all humans. Quote from a book I like: "What a treacherous thing to believe that a person is more than a person" (From Sam Waddoups)
- Books have taught me that opposition is complicated, because in general, if you see why someone is doing what they are doing, you will be able to emphasise with them. There is rarely a straight good or bad, just limited judgements based on what information you have. (Another one for Sam Waddoups)
- Books have taught me that it is important to be mindful of everything you do. Thoughts have power, and words have power, and actions have power. And everything you do is a choice. So it is imperative to treat everything you do as a chance to show your integrity and helpfulness towards others and humankind in general. (Sam Waddoups, everybody) 2 quotes, from the Knife of Never Letting Go: "We are the choices we make." and "But a knife ain't just a thing, is it? It's a choice, it's something you do. A knife says yes or no, cut or not, die or don't. A knife takes a decision out of your hand and puts it in the world and it never goes back again."
- Books have taught me that everybody is the Protagonist to their own story, just like we believe we are. You may be the sidekick to your friend's, but it is their story and their journey.
- Books have taught me that power, when used wrongly, can corrupt any single one of us. Powers like money, being famous or recognised, having thousands of friends, and greed for having possessions can be our greatest downfall.
- Books have taught me that there are people that stand idly by, hoping a hero will come and help, and there are people who act and do things and become the everyday hero.
- Books have taught me that just because you don't agree with what somebody else does, does not mean that you are against them or hate them. *Hate the sin, not the sinner* if you will.
- Books have taught me that you can't take everything at face value. Sometimes it takes a whole perspective change to see where somebody or something is coming from.
- Books have taught me that hate begets hate. No amount of grudge-holding, revenge, or hate will change anything. You will still be hateful. It takes forgiveness and patience to move forward and to be better.
- Books have taught me that you can AND can't judge a book by its cover. The cover is the representation it wants to be perceived as, but if you do a bit more research, you'll often to find a different case, one that you might like a lot more than you realise (Applicable to people...if you couldn't tell)
- Books have taught me that everyone makes mistakes. The part that separates people is what you do after you make a mistake. Do you sit and wallow in self-pity, or do you jump back up, fighting harder than before?
- Books have taught me that sometimes the best relationships are the ones that don't form until 4 books later, but was a hinted at in the very first chapter of the first book.
- Books have taught me that the pain ends eventually, maybe even just dimmed down, but you can pass through and grow from it.
- Books have taught me that it all begins and ends with attitude.
- And finally, Books have taught me that every day of your life is another page in your book. Make it a page you'd want to read.
18. If you take me to a bookstore on a date, I will most likely marry you in approximately 1.5 seconds. Bonus points if you buy me books on this supposed book date...