reading in a changed world

I’ve always been a prolific reader, able to pick up and put down a book, read for a few minutes here, a few there, stay engaged in a story no matter how tiny my reading window. I’ve never needed a cozy corner, away from the brouhaha in order to concentrate. I’ve been known to stand at the stove, book in hand, eyes glued to the page while I stir sauce or soup or pasta.

But lately you’re not likely to find me nose in a book while attempting to put away laundry, sweatpants and socks strewn across the bed awaiting my attention. Lately I’ve found it difficult to fall into a story, rejoice with characters I feel I know, grieve their losses with them, celebrate their triumphs.

The stories that draw me in are the very ones that feel real, often are based on real people with real lives and loves and heartache and obstacles and all the things that I don’t want to, can’t seem to, live through on the page with them. I want stories full of laughter and happy endings and life blossoming with beauty. I’m tired of the hardships and war-torn lives and catastrophes that characters, that we, face.

So I guess what I want from books right now is not just someone else’s story, but a break from all the chaos and upheaval and uncertainty in the world I inhabit. But the thing is, stories that sell, stories with satisfying endings, stories that tug at the heart are usually the ones where you feel you’ve traveled a long road with the characters, faced some seemingly insurmountable obstacle, an conquered it.

Lately, I’ve been drawn to WWII stories of women and the impact on their lives, how the political climate in which they lived changed their world, the way they lived, shaped their families and their freedoms. No one survived unscathed. Many didn’t survive at all. And yet the world kept turning.

I want to find hope in these stories. Life continued and, eventually, a new normal was achieved. But did it ever feel normal for them, for those old enough to know the realities of their time? Or was it the children who achieved a normal for themselves?

And what of my world now? Is this the new normal? Can I see past the very midst of where we are to a time when I can imagine what normal might be, can be? Because I don’t want things to always be this way.

And what of our children? Their children? What will they think when they look back to the year 2020, hear stories told by their parents and grandparents of all the things that changed this cattywampus year?

grace for each moment, one moment at a time

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