Listening to the NY Times Book Review podcast yesterday and one of the guests was Joe Queenan who was discussing his habit of rereading books again and again.
At first I was intrigued because I have a few titles of my own that I could read a dozen times (and have) and always find something new within.
But what struck me most was a comment he made about how reading is, for so many people, an expression of the desire to escape their world into another. And he believes this is especially true of those who read voraciously as he does.
As he spoke of his own reading habits, it became clear that it is something more than just enjoying books and stories. . but that they are truly another world for him to exist in. He copies lines, passages and quotes for future reference, then organizes and stores them. So the escape continues outside the covers of the books themselves into his own world. . .
He connected this pursuit to being similar to anything people do in excess. . . and, for me, the light went off imediately in my own head.
*** *** ***
As a child, I did not create to escape anything horrible or unjust.
I had a rather charmed upbringing in a simple, working class, urban home in Pennsylvania. My hours and hours of "escape" were fueled by the fact that I simply preferred those self created places and imaginings more than most of the possible interactive reality with kids my age. (this from ages 7 to 17 really. . . and, in truth, through most of my adult years as well) My interests from sports, to ancient Egyptian art to sci-fi fantasy, writing stories, music and building miniature railroads was all something I felt most at ease delving into totally alone so as to be created by just one set of rules. My own. . .
And I was a voracious maker-of-things within each of those elements. The worlds I created extended beyond the time spent within them. In my head, there were constant dialogues and imaginings of what would come next. Sort of like previews of upcoming shows. This was the main part of my world for many years.
Somewhere along the way, in my early 20's, that got sidetracked . . . set aside. . . and I lost my way for awhile in life in general I think.
It seems to me that so very often, under the guise of growing up, we think we have to leave much of that early escapism and creation behind. Also, there are people who perhaps never had that in their own childhood years and they actually discover it later in life. Sadly, they relegate it to "hobby" or "interest" status as that is the more grown up way to give it voice.
Now this, it seems, is all in the interest of having these things fit into our adult lives and this is, in my world, backwards thinking.
Do we ever find it if we venture far from those childhood places or allow our passions and loves to be compartmentalized into being called indulgences, hobbies, interests and a few-hours-a-month-when-time-allows activities??
In my life, after all these years, those indulgences and worlds of my own creation are front and center again. They occupy almost EVERY waking hour and they are how I make my living now. They are the very essence of my world today, as they were all those years ago and, yes, that comes with costs that few would be willing to pay.
With the exception of the computer, where I do indeed sell most of my items and creations on the internet, I have left behind the modern world almost completely. I am certain that it is not a place where creativity can reign or be nurtured because it is all about the moment and the minutia of our lives. Instant and constant flooding of the unimaginative and mundane.
Creativity, on the other hand, takes time and effort and imagination and solitude to discover. . . to unlock something magical within.
The desire to connect in today's instant access world only serves to push more and more people into forced community instead of celebrating the unique, the individual, the mystery and, maybe most importantly, the solitude and aloneness of us all.
Which is, to me, the best thing we can slow down and explore.
And this, I think has trickled right down to every form of escape, even reading which, as Mr Queenan states in his thoughts about e-readers,“ they have purged all the authentic, non-electronic magic and mystery from their lives.”
It's all about magic really. . .
And taking the time to create it is the best thing I believe I can do every day. Because ithas paid me back ten-fold in ways I have yet to even tally.
I hope you will take the time and create it too.