Life certainly proves to be quite up and down. One minute you’re riding on the coattails of excitement and never-ending job and the next minute, things have changed and you’re down in the dumps, wondering when that smile turned to a frown. But that’s life. As cliche as it sounds, I refuse to believe that there are some people who are on a constant high, because I certainly haven’t found the high they’re talking about. Whatever you’re smoking, I’ll have some. That’s why, as I’ve gotten older, Ive come to appreciate the transcendency of the joys and the short-livedness of the sadness. It’s here, wave at it, revel in it for a bit, and then stabilise yourself.
But over the years, I’ve also realised that I can find an outlet that is always available, cheap and accessible. Reading.
I’m constantly distracted, always finding ways to entertain myself and make the most of the hours, yet reading calms me. It gives me a sense of accomplishment that nothing else can. The moment I open up a new book or research my next reading venture, I feel this surge of excitement that I cannot match to anything else. For me, reading opens up another universe, where I don’t need to be in control, or worry. I just watch, and immerse myself. I am standing in front of the firing squad with Arcadio in 100 Years of Solitude, I’m hunting for the murderer in My Name is Red and I’m feeling the lack of oxygen in Bell Jar. I don’t need to move, I don’t need to worry. All is written out and will unfold in front of me as it progresses. No comments can bother me, I don’t feel the hot or cold. It’s about the words and me.
But reading does something else to me. The more I read, the less I feel I’ve read. I might be entertained while the pages get heavier on the left and lighter on the right but once it finishes, I’m left feeling like ‘now what?’ There is a sense of overwhelming pressure to keep reading. As if I finish a book and 2 more replace it. It also leaves me questioning my ability to write and when and if I will ever accomplish the writing goals and missions I’ve set out for myself.
It’s a double edged sword, but I wouldn’t trade this feeling of exhilaration for anything else. After all, how else can you make it through the days where the cabbie whines through traffic, your work seems unending and the people around you seem unsolvable mysteries?
Currently reading: All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. So far, it’s riveting.