I was looking at my book shelf this morning and thinking about just how much I crave and need the written word. I need stories; I am fascinated with the thoughts and the struggles of characters. I am captivated by how they react to having their back pushed against the wall, and how they deal with love and every other emotion that the human heart is capable of. I love stories about people and the lives they lead. Stories that depict raw emotion and inspire that same raw emotion inside of me. Stories that remind me what being a human is all about and stories that show me I am not alone in this big, crazy mess we call life.
It’s stories that remind me there are bigger things in life than my own wants and struggles. It’s stories that remind me how cruel and how kind people can be. It’s stories that cast a light on how fleeting love can be, how much words can hurt, and how one person can make a difference. Stories – beautiful, controversial or thought-provoking stories – have the power to spark conversation and inspire dreams. They form bonds between people, create families out of strangers, and inspire generations. When I read a book, I am reminded of the important things in life and I am taught the meaning of sacrifice. My brain is filled with new ideas and I learn things about myself – things that I like and things I wish I could change – as I see myself reflected in the pages.
I love reading because it takes me to places I can never go, and introduces me to people who sometimes seem to understand me better than those around me. As I sit here now on this May night, with my hair in french braids, my feet hanging slightly off the bed, and the sound of heavy rain falling outside, I realize that the best gift reading has given me is the gift of imagination. Reading has allowed me to see colour where others only see grey. It is the reason that I hear music in the rain and it’s the reason I lie on my bed making up stories, almost to the point where I can’t fall asleep. Reading is the reason I’ve lived a hundred lives and met hundreds of people without scarcely ever leaving home – and it is the reason I am inspired to pack my suitcase and have adventures of my own. I will be forever grateful to tales about survival, bravery and new beginnings for filling my heart with hope and for inspiring me to live with my heart on my sleeve, take leap of faith, and try again.
I believe that because of reading, I am a better person. I’m a person of emotion; of dreams and ideas, and an appreciation for the simple things. When I throw down a book in a fit of anger and frustration, when I shed a tear of sadness or joy, or when I feel an overwhelming amount of compassion and empathy, I am reminded that I have a beating heart inside of my chest. I am not a robot, I am not stone, and I promise myself that I never will be.