I grew up surrounded by limitations, as most children are. Rules from parents, teachers, church leaders, siblings, friends, signs, conventions blatant enough to penetrate a child’s understanding…and I accepted it. I was a tractable kid, always wanting to please, terribly afraid of being wrong, of doing the wrong thing. I never tested the bounds. I learned to lie early to escape being found out in my sins.
As I got older, the limitations morphed, but did not disappear. I learned to make my own limitations upon myself, and added layer after layer of soul-binding straps to lock me into the path and personality I thought best suited for me.
So it’s no surprise how much I enjoyed reading. In books, I found a way beyond myself, outside of the limitations, a way to escape the bindings I and others had created. I’ve been reading a book called Reading Like a Writer by Francine Prose, and there’s a line that really stuck out to me.
She speaks of the;
“dependable, out-of-body sensation of being somewhere else…”
She’s talking about how much she herself loved fiction as a kid, and when I read that, I knew it described me perfectly.
I read to be in that somewhere else, and it was amazing how many somewheres I found. Even in nonfiction, as I got older, I found a life different than what I imagined. People were discovering things and sharing them, and stretching my knowledge and awareness was as exhilarating as stepping into a fantasy world. (Yeah, I was basically a huge nerd.)
In those days, I read to escape my childishness and inability to create my own life. You can’t do much independently when you’re twelve. Now, as a fully-fledged adult, I am totally in control, yet I find myself still incapable of doing what will bring my desired life into being. So I continue to read; to fuel my passions, to encourage me in the darkest times, and to escape into lives and somewheres other than my own.