Monday, August 9, 2010
Of all the elements that first pulled me to literature, the deep complexity of unanswerable questions was never one of them. While it can be fun and even, occasionally, enlightening to ponder the what-ifs of the world, that wasn’t what I was looking for.
Yes, the pondering does happen, even for me, but that’s not why I dive into a book. I’m not hoping for some mind-bending revelation. This could be a flaw, granted, but just in the interest of honesty, it just wasn’t why I’d pick up a book. I just wanted to be sucked in. That’s all I asked. The world had to be real. The characters had to be real.
The magic that I find in literature is the power of connections. The ability to take the simple, everyday elements of life and reveal them for the complexities they are in and of themselves. I may be contradicting myself here, but what I’m trying to say is that there’s power in that. There’s power in being able to connect with someone you have never met and probably never will through common experiences and emotions…in a story. Everyone has a story. Everyone has a life they’ve lived and are living. The elements that make up those lives are what make the stories. You can’t have a story without people.
This also connects to my desire to pursue journalism. You can throw a bunch of facts together and tell the world that a bridge collapsed or that a budget hearing is being held next Monday. But it’s the stories of bravery and courage and heartbreak that unite people. Even with that budget hearing, it’s understanding how that budget effects the people that live in that area that makes it worth caring about.
Sorry, I apologize if this turned into a rant, but I blame Yeats. I was reading some of his poetry and it just sticks. Some of his poetry is so other-worldly you’d think I’m crazy to say that it connects with the simplicity of everyday life. But that’s the beauty of it. The enchanted forest of a child’s imagination is never that far away no matter how old you are. We all have a Byzantium, or will. Everyone has a moment like the child dancing in the wind where the world stands still and nothing exists outside of that moment.
Those connections are sometimes all that keep us going. Knowing that we’re not alone in our struggles, knowing that there’s someone to share in our joys. Literature can certainly reveal truths about ourselves that we may have never thought about otherwise or make clear something you simply couldn‘t articulate. Or maybe it’s just reaffirming something we already knew. Whatever it does, the good stuff connects. And that’s what I love about it.