Last week as I spent time with my family, grieving, and remembering, and saying goodbye, I realized why books and movies will never truly go out of style. More than just forms of entertainment, they are a means of escape, a way of stepping out of or away from the stresses or hardships of every day life.
Funny thing: As we spent the day at the hospital on Monday and Tuesday, there were at least two copies of MOCKINGJAY in the waiting room, along with two or three other books brought by various members of my family. (Yes, we pretty much dominated the room—large families tend to do that.) Not that any of us read much, but we all had that desire, that need, and at one point or another, we all tried.
Friday after the funeral , I had this intense urge to go to a movie. Something funny, happy. Something that would make me laugh. Not because I didn’t respect all the funeral proceedings or the fact that so many people were grieving, but more because I was also grieving and needed an escape. A laugh. A release other than tears. (Okay, also, I wanted salty theater popcorn.)
Books and movies offer an opportunity to step out of one world and live in another, for just a few hours at a time. Regardless of what’s happening in our lives, the break we get from stepping temporarily away helps give us perspective and new clarity of mind.
Isn’t that the whole point? I mean really, that is why we read, right? To step into someone else’s world, experience life through someone else’s eyes. To gain knowledge from someone else’s experience. To grab hold of someone else and ride the roller coaster with them—even though we know these people aren’t real. We feel what they feel, want what’s best for them, and more importantly, we want the best possible outcome for their situation and conflict.
And at the end, we’re able to close the book and move on, get back on track with reality, hopefully rested enough from the issues in our own lives that we’re able to focus and progress.
Have you found this to be true for you as well? I’d like to know how reading has helped you escape.