Dear lover, for whom society says my whole life centers around. For whom every ounce of my being supposedly belongs with. At whose heart my ship shall drop its anchors, and let them plunge deep into the obscure depths of our shared love and passion. They say I should wear mascara in the morning to get you to notice me. And if I lose a lash or two at the end of the day as I remove it, then I at least get to wish for you. There’s a lot of things that people do to themselves for other people. But I don’t believe in that nonsense. For I am not whole, nor am I nothing. I’m a person with many inadequacies and equal abilities. And on a daily basis I try to reduce the former and enrich the latter.
I was almost always a model student, a model daughter, a dilettante artiste… Never had a model body, partly because everyone says I should (for you) and partly because I never truly could. But when I step out of my house every morning to complete my education, I do it for me. When I play a sport that makes me stronger in both body and mind, I do it for me. Because if your existence is unwarranted, then I must make myself sufficient in every way. But we live in a world where love is the default item to covet, where it is the fuel for the journey towards its truest form which is the ultimate goal. What should I tell my self-sufficient soul?
I go to bed at night and I pull a book off my shelf and read. And that self-sufficiency dissolves into the atmosphere; a several hundred specks hanging onto every word I read, colouring every vision encouraged by what I consume, making my heart flutter with an ambivalent quiver that is thirsty for more but with too much pride to admit it. For the more it craves, the more lacking it feels, and then what would it tell my self-sufficient soul?
Perhaps there’s little to learn about the world from fiction. And if it does, then it does it scarcely in comparison to the bulky books about history and society and science. But fiction is about the vast spectrum of being; it’s the chronicling of persistent emotions in a transient world with ever changing phases and endless different (but down at the root, similar) tragedies. Fiction is about taking sides, about simulation, about me… and unfortunately you. What the hell do I tell my supposedly self-sufficient soul, now?
I could tell it that this is where you are best presented, best preserved. I could tell it that it’s an indulgence of a guilty pleasure, for I can’t help but believe that I need to substitute my emotional shortages with fictional ones. I could tell it that it is pointless fun, as if flicking pages is like pressing buttons on my phone’s screen. And they all would not be lies, for at some point or another, I felt one of these things, or all of them at once.
But in reality, now that I sit down and think about it, I do it because it’s about us. Not you and me, dear lover. But you and me and the big world that stands in the way of our unity, of our distinction in my use of the word ‘us’.
Dear lover, there are four ways to get to know the inhabitants of the world. You could read history and read about their infinite stupidity and their incredible ability of falling for the same things repetitively despite the chronicled warnings. You could study science and learn about their anatomical make-up and the way it functions and falters and eventually decays. You could tackle psychology and learn about emotions, their normalcy and plummeting depression and steep heightening. Or you can read fiction and have all the previously mentioned things blend into what’s closest to reality up-close.
Once upon a time, when I’d first started reading, it was all about you, dear lover. I hoped that one day you would see my shelves and admire how I’ve adorned my brain. You’d admire how even though I’ve read about so many great loves, I can still put up or even enjoy ours. Once upon another time, it was about society. I wanted to be that smart girl who’s always reading, who races through novels as though a chocolate cake awaits her at each finish line. But then you didn’t bump into me at bookstore and no stranger ever tapped on my shoulder and asked me how I felt about my current read and became my new best friend. And then I realised that reading fiction is not all about who it brings me but what it lets me see. I get to see the world in so many different lights and in a million different words so that one day, I can formulate my own thoughts about it. So that one day I could write you, dear lover, a letter to assure you of my fidelity and educate the world about the importance of not busting a muscle and be a physician who believes in recovery. So that I could talk my sister out of her deluded ways, and tug my brothers into some sort of sense.
Fiction is the one thing that I let myself do for you and me. Because fiction does not only empower me, but also guides me around this twisted maze that is the world. And that, I suppose, my attempted self-sufficient soul could come to accept.
I honestly don’t know what happened. One minute I was feeling stupid about reading only fiction, wondering how the hell does that make me more ‘cultured’ or ‘literate’, the next thing I know is I was writing this. Let me know what you think, what you’ve deduced. But most importantly, let me know why you read fiction, why you think it’s important. Basically, why do you read the things you choose to read? What do you come with out of it? Is that enough for you? Leave it in a comment or make a post and link me to it. But I need more reasons, I need to see why others do it. I want a bigger scope on what makes fiction a more popular choice among readers as I consider more reasons as to why I do it myself. And I apologise if the writing is a bit choppy or soppy but my head is currently an entanglement of names of muscles and chemicals, and I haven’t really written in over a year.
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