Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Sweet Escape

It must be nice to drift off into another world where someone else has worse problems than you, all of which are miraculously fixed by the end of the journey. There are adventures within words, and worlds within pages, people among the individual letters; all of this, bound and sown together, littering the globe in the form of a handsome volume.

Sometimes the world feels too small, and that the walls are crushing, closing in and suffocating you, even as you stare out the window into the wider world. Claustrophobia takes hold, and as your breath becomes ragged, you do the best thing you can do to calm yourself: you pick up a book. There you can lose yourself and live several lifetimes, with the wisdom of the writer being imparted upon you. It's not the same as living, but sometimes it can be infinitely more thrilling.

It is true that there are only few stories in the world, and you begin to notice eventually that many outcomes are the same. However, it must be said that it is not the final destination which matters, it is the journey; the same can be said of novels: the ending does not matter, it is the words that got you there that are important. People craft sentences specific to them, so that they are unique. Those words are the ones which tug at your intuition, or pull at your heartstrings, or work the muscles of your face into a smile. And that is why they are significant, it is why the art of writing will never lose style, and why books will never be out of fashion.

There is no better way of escaping the harshness of reality than losing one's self in a novel, in another place, another world, another time.

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