There are lots of crazy things about being human. I really think that we are the most bizarre of all the animals in the world. I mean, the platypus is definitely weird and the pancake bat-fish might have been drawn by a kid in kindergarten, but none of these other animals messes up their own lives the way we do.
Humans love to make things complicated. We complicate our relationships, or workplaces and our own minds by living in the past or the future and completely avoiding just being present and accepting what is happening around us.
Have you ever noticed how rarely we feel that everything is just how it should be? Things are too hot, too cold, too wet, too loud, too quiet. Too infrequently are we able to put our judgement hats aside and just appreciate the wonder of how things are playing out around us.
This is why I love to read and write stories. At least good stories. There are definitely times when a story doesn’t capture enough of my mind to appease the law of judgement, but when it does, there is bliss.
Reading (or listening to audiobooks) is less work than writing. It’s my chance to reach out and gently take another world in my hands. It’s the gift of a fresh perspective and a break from the complications I have built in my own life.
The beautiful thing about sharing in a story is that it’s available to everyone. Everyone can get the chance to re imagine themselves living new adventures, battling new adversaries and generally coming out on top.
From the very first time I ever read a chapter book ( Jacob two-two Meets the Hooded Fang and James and the Giant Peach were the first two novels I read on my own and I read them over and over again), I could imagine myself with my new friends fighting unbeatable odds. I could imagine myself as part of the story. No matter how strange and complicated my life became, I could choose the beautiful distraction of sharing in an adventure.
But, no matter how much I’ve enjoyed my literary romps, I never really saw myself in the characters. I’ve cherished many of the characters I’ve met, but I wasn’t one of them; until now. Alex Fierro in Rick Riordan’s book 2 of the Magnus Chase series is genderfluid. When I first read their character it brought tingles down my spine and tears to my eyes. When I read them, I saw myself looking back through the pages.
I had no idea how much I was missing seeing myself in print until finally there I was. It felt miraculous to just be a character in someone else’s world. To realize that someone else’s world had room for me. ( I should backtrack slightly and say that I actually first read myself in Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin which is actually where I first learned the term genderfluid.)
It is a little ironic to me, that I have understood for awhile the importance of having a diverse bookshelf for my students and my children. I try to read novels that represent a variety in race, religion and gender and yet, I never realized that this was something that I needed too.
We all need the chance to read ourselves, to know we are not alone.
Writing is a different kind of magic all together. Writing is like tapping into a supernatural fountain that gives me the ability to see into worlds that aren’t open to just anyone. It even gives me some control of what happens in those worlds.
Writing gives me the chance to give the gift of a story. A number of times in my life, I have written stories for friends, acquaintances or even near strangers. Always it has come from a sharing, a connection that has opened a portal into a tiny space in their world. A space that I could share and then reflect back in all its glory.
Sometimes it’s easier to see your own strength when it’s staring at you from the page. Sometimes it’s easier to see how special you are when you are kindly and compassionately saving the world.
Everyone should have the chance to read themselves, but some people probably are more in need than others.
Do you or someone you love need to see yourself in a story? What genre would you choose? What elements would you need to see yourself truly shine through?
I have so many amazing things to be grateful for and I want to share my gratitude with you, my wonderful readers. Send me a message, send me your truths and I will try to spin you a story.
*I will randomly choose 3 stories to write out of the replies that I receive.*