“I have China with me in my bag right now.”
“China? What do you mean?”
“It’s a country.”
“Ok Maya… Whatever…”
This is a conversation I had with my friend yesterday.
Yeah, I carry countries in my bag. Currently it’s post-WW1 China. A few days ago I was actually travelling with some dwarves and a wizard in my bag. I just pull out my little secret and the world is gone. And I’m there, in the land of stories.
It kind of feels like leading a double life. Like once I get one of my books out, I’m in my other life, my secret life. Sitting in Tanach class pretending to have the Tanach book open in front of me (but it’s actually ‘The Painter of Shanghai’), I’m in a parallel universe. I’m in my own little bubble, my own sanctuary. My only troubles are the troubles of Yuliang, or Bilbo, or Harry or Matilda or whoever I am at the moment. Suddenly failing math doesn’t matter so much anymore. Suddenly missing my dad and his wife and my little brother, and worrying about my future and the fights with my mom, all of that isn’t important.
I stop to think, just for just a moment, that if I will always have this other life, I don’t really need the first one. I can just live like that, off of stories. They are better than food, better than any iPhone or expensive car. They are the fule to my soul.
There are people in the world who hate books. They HATE them. I have a friend like that. I can’t understand. I simply can’t understand whether she is soulless or simply stupid. Or I’m just stupid. Maybe I’m living in one big illusion.
And there is one boy. He said to me once, “I try as much as possible to stay away from people who read books.”
Why? Because you fear being more intelligent? Because you are afraid of the truth and the emotion that you will experience while reading?
Or maybe you simply don’t know, can’t grasp the beauty of it?
But why? Why can’t you realize what you’re missing? Why are you living in utter stupidity? Keeping yourself away from people who think. Staying ignorant. Close-minded.
My parents don’t like books. They don’t hate them either, but mostly it is I that encourage them to read and not the other way around. And my only grandmother who (I was told) loved to read just as much as I did, died when I was 10.
I never knew how hard it would be to find one, just ONE person who truly understands my passion. I’m starting to think my teachers could understand better than my friends. Just once I would like to talk to someone who has ever visited in my secret universe. Who has ever discovered it in their own mind. Who has ever felt what I have felt: raw, powerful, overflowing emotion. The emotion of someone else, not me, but currently I am them. We are one, united.
Perhaps the only ones who have felt it are the writers of these books that make me feel this way.
Words have such power. Such power. I don’t even know it. Neither do you. They are naked, yet masked. They themselves are masks, to layers of other words, thoughts, then emotions. Then even deeper things. Things the one who told the story doesn’t even know are hidden in it.
The smell of books is my favorite smell in the world. The relief of entering a book store full of new, fresh smelling books in the middle of a bustling mall. The excitment of walking into a library filled with old books with a strong scent.
Within these sweet smelling binded pages are words and words that have been taken out of the soul of someone else. Someone I am soon to know better than myself, sometimes. Someone who has just opened a door into their being, allowed me in and offered me tea.
If you cannot enjoy this, I pity you.
If you recognize this feeling, stop for a moment and be grateful. Stop and truly understand it.