My first love came in the form of a small paperback book titled The Old man and the Sea. I had found it in a pile of garbage in front of an old abandoned house my brother and I used to walk by on our way to the corner store on the west side of Akron, OH.
In the beginning it was just something to have. (I was a kid. I don’t know why i did half the shithead things I did.) I actually kept the book for about two years before I read a single word. Throughout that time it seemed to pop up everywhere I went in the house. I’ll be sweeping and it would just be there, without any logical reason why. I’d always pick it up, kick it, or pretty much anything that got it out of my way. That book followed me through the house like a puppy with abandonment issues.
It was just a matter of time before the book and I ended up alone together. That time came when I was about fourteen. (This is actually how stupid I was.) I let a girl convince me that it was a good idea to go into a room that I shared with three other brothers for privacy. I know. Fucking retarded. Needless to say I got caught with “my hand in the cookie jar” so to speak. I think I heard something about grounded in between the thorough and well deserved beating I received when my father found out.
Anyway, the result was that I was remanded to my room for an unspecified amount of time. My video games and drawing tools were taken. So it was just me and the four walls until my brothers come back to get ready for bed. As I laid in the bed feeling like my life is over, the bright blue cover of the book peaked out from under the bed, waiting. I consumed that book and moved on to other titles; never taking a break from the endless adventures that fiction provided me.
The world benefits from fiction like an addict benefits from their substance. A good story allows you to escape the reality that we are all subjected to. The words enters the body through the mind’s psyche, as we imagine the journey and sometimes try to become one of the characters. It allows others that don’t have the capabilities to conjure up fantastic stories to dream of a world, where they can be whomever they see fit.
The writer gives a child’s mind substance and makes a place for the impossible. The lucky ones carry it into adulthood and continues the cycle of creating an oasis of adventure.
I found that oasis and never left because sometimes having that escape is the only reprieve you get from a reality that is often filled with depression and heartache. I speak of this from experience. A great story, an escape or adventure can give you the reason you need to get you to the next stop in this long road we call life. Fiction saves lives.
I wrote this as a beginning to of a tale to explain, rather confess my endless bout with depression and how I am continuing to not only deal but to beat it. However, I would love to hear from others. What has fiction done for you? Please respond in the comments. Thank you for reading. I am an author in progress and I’m out.