My Best Friends

I love books.

I consider them my friends.

Ever since I was tiny, I can’t remember a single thing I liked more than for my dad to read me stories. Consequently, all of them made me cry – sensitive little soul that I was. But I loved it, nonetheless.

I love the smell of paper, of faded ink, of leather,  the sound of whisper-thin pages fluttering, brushing the thick spines with my fingertips, the cracked, worn bindings, the thick moist sound of opening a thick tome, the satisfying thump of closing one, the awing silence of a vast library, the feeling of limitless information at your fingertips…

But there is a darker side, even to something so seemingly innocent.

Let’s face it. Books, stories, are a form of escape.

I could lose myself in the magic and wonder and mystery of a good book… and escape the hurt, the pain, of the world around me. I could run away into a world where everything was happy, and ended happily, the bad guys couldn’t touch me. I could escape into a dreamland that was magical, and safe, and controlled.

But I wonder, can that be right? 

I believe in facing your problems. And I always hated the idea that life was so hopeless that it needed escaping. I never thought it was right, or even acceptable, to try and drown yourself in…escapes, trying to numb the pain. But isn’t that what I am doing?

Some turn to alcohol, some to work, or drugs, sex, entertainment, pleasure, sleep, food, shopping… and the list goes on. I find this depressing because no matter how hard you try to escape, the pain will still be there when you get back.

Sometimes I find myself more concerned about what’s going on in a book than what’s happening all around me.

So, in the end, the people that populate my world… aren’t real people at all.

This worries me. It scares me. I don’t want to become an addict. Even if the form it takes looks harmless.

So do I give up my favorite pastime? And, if I’m honest, could I even if I decided that I should?

When does enjoying a good book cross the line of becoming wrong, a way to run away from my life, when does it start causing me to miss out on things, important things, things I will later regret missing? When does it become destructive, an addiction, something that could ruin my life? Will I awaken from my dreaming, and, like Rip Van Winkle, realize that the rest of the world has carried on without me, and left me behind?

These are questions that I cannot answer. And I don’t know if I will ever be able to.