Escapism Through Stories

The day before yesterday, I was sitting in my living room, trying to gain traction on the story I was writing and watching CNN. The whole ‘Kenya is so excited about Obama coming to Kenya’ thing was being nicely contrasted with the inconveniences people were going to go through. On my whatsapp timeline and facebook page, people were either talking about their disappointment that it wasn’t a public holiday, excitement at half work days or how they won’t be able to go somewhere because roads were closed. You know; just basically life being lived.

Then at six am in the morning just as I’m thinking that I should go to bed, I get a text from my sister saying that my cousin is dead…just like that. Over. Done. The fat lady sang. Its not a mistake; this has really happened. Road Traffic Accident and words like ‘body’ and ‘mortuary’ being thrown about. And suddenly the world went left and the little every day and not so every day things people were worried about faded into insignificance.

Some things are too heavy to process all at once and sometimes you just need to take a moment and find something happy to think about or do. For some people, they use drugs or alcohol for this escape. For me and many others, its a good story. You find some stories where the hero or heroes go through a lot of shit, sometimes they emerge from it unscathed other times they’re bruised and battered; but not broken. Harry Potter, Jamie and Claire, Father Emilio Sandoz, Sam and Dean Winchester, Scott and Stiles…they’re beaten down, they get up, they keep fighting.They lose some, hopefully they win more.

So you emerge from that alternate universe with the renewed sense that being beaten down is not the end; its the middle of the story. And even if you don’t know how you’ll get up again, doesn’t mean that you won’t. I used to think that escapism was an unhealthy concept in general; maybe because some methods of escaping can be downright dangerous.

 But now, I consider it in the same light as the effects of sleep to the body. Inadequate sleep means that the body fails to repair itself. Fixing those little tears and shoring up whatever needs to be replenished. I consider that escapism does the same for the emotions.

When you’ve been hit hard by something that has happened to you, and you turn your back on it and dive into some alternate universe consisting of Diagon Alley or Lallybroch, The Men of Letters bunker or Beacon Hills…or all of the above; it gives your emotions a chance to fix those tears, and shore up strength for the battles ahead.

That’s why I read. And that’s why I write. Hopefully my stories can do for others, what these stories have done for me.

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