Books are my safe space. Particularly fantasy fiction.
“Wow! That’s lame.” You may be thinking.
Or, “She must really be detached from reality.”
I suppose that wouldn’t be completely untrue. Reality is hard, and sometimes I don’t want anything to do with it. So I escape to books. Reading about heroes, valor, honor, sacrifice and courage is much more uplifting then the daily opinion pieces we call “news” (which I also read to stay abreast of current events. However, I do not read articles on Facebook unless I can find them on a legitimate news site, which generally means the authors have been a little more subtle in interjecting their opinions.) I especially appreciate books where the hero has to face pain, death, and uncertainty, because every person on the planet will face these things at some point or another.
Reading fiction, even fantasy fiction, is not just for escaping, but it actually give us a safe space to view situations from various perspectives. We get to see the crisis through the author’s eyes, which are different from our own. It can stretch us and cause us to think differently.
“You are taking this way to seriously!” You maybe shouting at the screen, “They’re make-believe stories for pete’s sake.”
True, you’re right. They are make believe stories, but to a child and even to adults like me who like to find a safe space sometimes, they can help us build or rebuild our framework to deal with pain, death and uncertainty. We can put ourselves in the position of the protagonist, antagonist (or any character really) and see the situation from their unique perspective.
I’m working on several books at the moment, and by far the hardest one to write has been from a former witch’s perspective (Susa’s Story). She did not intend to be a witch, she just didn’t stand up to her friend who did. In the process she was swept along into things she never intended to be involved in. This, however, didn’t make her any less guilty. It stretched me to write her story, because of the pain she had to endure because of her inaction and the evil she and her friends chose to delve into. In the same way, books changed me as a child. When Reepicheep (spoiler) gets killed in Prince Caspian I had to combat my Disney notion that good guys always win, and live happily ever after. In the Lost Princess, by George MacDonald, Agnes chose to remain a horrible, rotten brat and doomed herself to a life of misery and discontentment, and I realized that sometimes people choose to make their own lives hell. These are realities I see every day when I read the news or scroll though Facebook. This is why I read fiction so I can have some type of framework to fit these experiences into before they inevitably accost me.
This is also why I expect my children to read. I want them to know that it’s okay to dive into a book when the world goes a little mad. Because a book can help broaden their perspective and build frameworks more then designated rooms, ice cream, play-dough, and puppies can. It also allows them to conveniently set the book aside and get back to work when (in the future) their grown-up responsibilities demand it.
So books are my safe space. If you think this is wrong, write a book about it, and perhaps I will read it to broaden my perspective. But until then books will be my safe space, and the book mark my best friend, because I can mark my spot when my grown-up responsibilities make their demands.
“Since it is so likely that (children) will meet cruel enemies, let them at least have heard of brave knights and heroic courage. Otherwise you are making their destiny not brighter but darker.” ~ C.S. Lewis