The world can be so loud at times. The thoughts inside one's head can be even louder.
I'm twenty nine years old; I will be next month, and I always struggle with figuring out which age group I really belong to. Most of the time I think of myself as the same person who graduated from college; after all, it's only been seven years. But at other times I realize so much has happened in those seven years, I'm not that kid anymore. This feeling is accentuated by certain looks I get from younger friends or colleagues, and then I realize they are actually looking up to me.
At other times, when I feel like an old soul, full of wisdom and life's lessons, I realize, again, that I am only twenty nine. What have I seen or experienced of the world?? I'm just a kid compared to most people.
Whether seven years out of college is a long time or not, whether what I feel is true for everyone or just due to my inexperience, one thing I know for sure is that every once in a while when I stop for a second, I notice how loud the world in my head is.
I have a highly demanding job, a wife and a 4-year-old girl, whom I love both dearly, and I don't live in my own country. My life is easier than most people on this planet and I am blessed with much more than I deserve. Yet, like many others, the more we get used to our lives, the more our thresholds are lowered and our vision is narrowed and we are too busy with our own issues. We start getting overwhelmed by work, requests, phone calls, e-mails, little problems and big problems, performance appraisals, bonuses, promotions, wanting to be liked by your colleagues, fearing that we hurt someone's feelings, or fearing that we made the wrong impression. Then there's the family, looking after them, wondering how on earth are you going to raise this kid properly and not screw her up; should you have another baby? or not? are you ready for that? are you a good father? are you a good husband? did you take out the trash? and oh God, I have work tomorrow and I forgot to buy a new razor!
You don't always realize this clash and clatter of thoughts in your mind until you are sitting alone, with the TV muted at two o'clock in the morning, reading a book about a mentally ill patient and you see the world through their eyes and it dawns on you that there is so much you are not hearing because of the noise you carry around with you. And at that point it was clear to me how therapeutic reading can be.
I took a few moments to fill my mind with a different crowd, not that of thoughts and worries, but of characters that I have gotten to know through the wonder of pages and the magic of words. And to my surprise, they were very quiet. Although this crowd included a recovering alcoholic with supernatural powers, a paranoid typewriter from the 20s and a man who survived a terrorist attack in New York City (and these were only the ones from the last few books I read) and although they made many sounds, it was like remembering the music from a carnival you went to as a child; it wasn't noise, it was soothing nostalgia.
I guess what I'm trying to say is that even though I didn't like all those books when I was reading them, I'm still grateful that I did, because they came back to help me when I needed an escape; they were like friends that only show up when no one else is there for you. They say nothing of value and usually they say nothing at all, but traveling back to the worlds you shared with them is an escape and a relief.
Books are wonderful friends that come to the rescue long after you turned the last page and maybe even long after the pages have withered away in an old box is someone else's garage. I know the stories I've read will always live with me and from time to time would drown out the noise of everyday.
Reading over my words, I can see that to many of you I might sound crazy. I won't admit to insanity, but I won't deny what I feel either. Just close your eyes, and tell me, wouldn't you like to silence the noise?