I was not very comfortable with real-life social situations when I was growing up. I was shy, even withdrawn, and deeply sensitive. The aggressive, outward-oriented demands of school were often too much for me, so I retreated into the world of books. That was where I could engage with and learn from people, events, and experiences that explored the full range of what it means to be human. And I gained so much from my reading, so much wisdom and comfort and beauty.
But obviously, as wonderful as the world of books may be, it’s not real life. So as I grew up I tried to enter into that life more fully, to engage in real relationships and to attempt to unfold myself. This was not easy, and much confusion and hurt ensued along the way. As I didn’t have any personal guidance to help me, I didn’t know what to do with this suffering, and so I pushed it down and tried to move on.
Now, in midlife, some of that buried confusion and pain has risen to the surface demanding to be dealt with — leading me to take a break from blogging for the past several weeks while I sort things out. But the book blogging community has been much on my mind during this time, because here is one place that I’ve found the social circle I missed in childhood. And feeling held by such circles is what has given me the strength to take up the challenges facing me in my real-life relationships right now.
Though we may not share much about our personal lives, I feel that through our shared love of reading we are connected in a very vital and essential way. We understand things non-readers may have a hard time relating to. We know what it’s like to identify with and feel compassion for someone we’ve never met, who only exists as words on a page. And we know that releasing those words into life is one of the most exciting, most fulfilling acts of co-creation imaginable. We’ve felt the thrill of reading our way into the deeper levels of things, and we’re not content to merely stay on the surface.
And so it’s not just the warmth and acceptance of this particular community that has helped me, but the particular activity we’re engaged in. It helps me to know you’re there, when I want to delve into the meaning of life and am met with “Oh no, we can’t do that — it’s too scary, too unsettling, too unpredictable.” It helps me to remember how each of us, when confronted with a seemingly impenetrable screen of black lines on a page, has patiently persisted and unraveled its secrets. And how rewarding that journey has been.
It amazes me that when I posted that I was going to take a break from this blog, twenty-three of you responded with good wishes and encouragement. Twenty-three friends I didn’t have five years ago! And that’s on top of many other readers who very likely sent the good wishes even though they didn’t comment.
I know it didn’t cost you much effort to do that, and you might think I’m making a big deal about nothing. But it isn’t nothing to me. And I just want to say thank you.
I intend to get back to posting again in the next weeks, though I’m not sure quite where life will take me or what direction this blog will go in. Whatever happens, I’ll be sure to keep you informed.