Every day that I read I am taken down from the ledge that looms over my total annihilation, and every day that I don’t finds me drawing ever closer to it. Most days, in one form or another, I am found mourning a loss of life. I am mourning the death of day in my life lost to inconsequential matters, lost to irrelevancy; all the minutes and hours buried in the desolate cold of a cubicle shaped tomb, a sepulcher in the service of subsistence, seething with fester and rot. Or, at least that’s how it feels on days when the melodrama of my own melancholy is more unchecked than usual.
And yet, “In the stillness of reading,” says Dani Shapiro, and in “the silence save for the sandpapery sound of my fingers turning the page, I [am re-]born.” Often it is only a temporary rebirth; a promethean cycle of regeneration in which I am made whole only to be devoured again and again. But, those moments of generative completeness in which the dawning awareness of feeling unmistakably less alone, of recognizing “that I [am] not insane”, and “That my heart [is] not so very different from everyone else’s”, of feeling “less ashamed,” or “Less weird”, or “Less different”; those moments that “[connect] me deeply to my own humanity” are the moments when I not only feel the most alive, but they are also the moments when I am the most glad that am. And those small, fleeting gifts of gladness are reprieve enough to make the daily ritual of being ripped open and torn apart more bearable.
Perhaps books cannot rescue me from the slow erosion of being eaten alive, but every day they manage to save my life from the agony of utter despair by providing me with the highest form of hope a person can have; the hope that tomorrow will hurt less than today.