Looking for Positive Moments in Life and Books
Like everyone right now, my life and my therapies have been upended by the coronavirus. While it’s easy to get bogged down in all the stress and seemingly all-consuming fear (especially if you turn on the television), the forced downtime has some positives if we remember to look for them.
One thing I’ll focus on today is reading. I love to read, and have for as long as I can remember. I don’t remember a time in my childhood when I wasn’t devouring books, and the best store at the mall for me was always the bookstore. I have boxes and boxes of books still under my bed at my parents’ house, because the bookshelves at my house are already overflowing.
Recently, I’ve been able to put some of my extra at-home time aside for reading, something that too frequently gets squeezed out of my daily life due to the pressures of work and responsibilities.
As someone who wasn’t diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome until age 22, I spent a large portion of my life exhausted and in pain. I honestly didn’t know just how much I was dealing with until it improved. It sounds like a bizarre phenomenon, I know, but I dig into that idea in a previous column. Then, as now, reading was a way to block out anything happening in my life from which I needed a break. I could lose myself in an entirely different world, for 10 minutes or hours at a time. That wasn’t something that I did conscientiously, but I realize now that it was actually a very healthy coping mechanism for me.
That, I think, is the key to why reading can be so therapeutic for people: For just a little while, you can be anyone and anywhere you want to be. Personally, I love historical fiction; I’m a complete and total nerd, and I always love learning. When I read historical fiction, not only am I delving into a different place and time, but I’m also learning about one of my favorite subjects. Many historical fiction novels are based to some extent on true events, and it’s fascinating to learn about the people, places, and attitudes of the time.
Many historical novels are set in times of upheaval, and this allows their authors to find the positive moments among individuals stuck in some truly terrible times. Even in the worst circumstances, while some took advantage of tragedy, many others bonded together and did their best to make it through the hardships they faced.
That struggle alone is the basis of most historical fiction. But in all honesty, it’s another reason why I enjoy these novels so much. No matter the situation, someone, somewhere, is trying to help; just ask Mr. Rogers.
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