I remember the time in my life when I didn't read, vividly. Coincidentally, or perhaps not so coincidentally, it aligns with a time devoid of creativity. It was a dark time with a lot of soul searching and the more I think about it, the more I wonder if there may be a link between the two.
As I delved into this personal inquiry about reading, I thought about the wonderful gifts reading has given me. So how does reading fuel the soul? I came up with a few ways it has fueled mine:
Reading is an emotional conduit. In today's society as most of us walk around with either stoic faces or pasted smiles, we need somewhere to release our raw constrained emotions. It isn't socially acceptable to scream or cry in the workplace unless you are fortunate to find a sound proof, single stall bathroom. Even when we are at home rallying our children to obey our wills, we work to be patient and calm rather than lash out. So where does all that anxiety, melancholy and frustration go? Well, it has to go somewhere. Books are a great way to relax and let raw emotions take hold of you. I feel like when I laugh or cry while reading a delicious, emotive book, I am releasing my angst and suffering constructively, in a way that impacts me for the better without impacting other people negatively.
Creativity breeds creativity. I like to think all people are creative in their own ways. Everyone has unique talents to express their brimming imaginations. Studies have proven things like music help you to concentrate and achieve higher overall performance. I believe reading is like music. When words flow like a lyrical ballad and the rhythms and beats of text take hold, I find goose bumps on my arms and legs. In those moments I'm taking away something far more extraordinary than simple words. The more I read, the more my mind
floods with ideas about life, love and happiness; and the more I'm able to express those ideas in a creative way.
Reading leads to understanding. Reading helps us to understand the world around us unlike anything else. We climb into people's heads and perspectives instead of viewing them from the outside. We discover places we've never traveled to as if we're viewing them ourselves. We get to live in patches of history that would be impossible to observe otherwise. When I say to a child "Books are magic," I am not exaggerating. Books are one of the best ways to understand, tolerate, and empathize with people. They are a way to, not only learn about societal issues, but to connect with them. They are also a way to develop a lifelong love of learning.
We discover hidden truths about ourselves. As we relate to a fictional character or a real person in a nonfiction book, we discover things about ourselves. Like an archeologist uncovering long lost treasures, I dust off information about my likes, interests, differences and shortcomings. I often question what I would do in similar circumstances and I learn a lot about myself in the process. Not only do I learn about these truths, but I come to terms with them, because in reading I find that I am human. Just like the fallible people and characters in books, I am allowed to be human instead of the prettied up postcard version of me I often find myself portraying.
Every time we open up a book we receive little gifts. What has reading given you?