Escape through Reading

I’ve been beat. I’ve been defeated. I need to lay down and escape into a dream world far and far away….

I’m not used to being beat. I’m not used to being defeated. I’m not used to needing an escape.

But when the whole world seems to be ganging up on you all at once there is only one thing a victor can do. Retreat until you have lost your predators. Retreat until you can turn your predators into prey. And when you turn your predators into your prey, you can chase them down like a king lion does hyena dogs. But hyenas will in packs, attack not only a lion cub, but a full-grown lion. The lion will always succeed only when he separates that pack and nails them one at a time. Or when the pride, the pack of lions, take charge and together they all go after the hyenas.

Yesterday I was a lion. Today I am a lone hyena or am I a defeated gazelle? One will survive, one will not.

One by one a gang of predators separated can become prey. Breakup a gang and get them alone, one by one, and then the playing field changes. It doesn’t matter rather you are talking people, wolves, hyenas, lions or vampires or werewolves… or zombies.

Conflict. Emotions. The stuff stories are made of. Without conflict, without emotions there is no story. Period.

And characters, structure, and plot. And of course, setting. There are other elements to story, too.

Life. Death. Struggle. Who is going to win? The villain or the protagonist? Or what if there is a villain protagonist? There is such a thing. There may be no hero, just a villain protagonist. Think about that one while you lay your money down waging for your decided winner.

Can you name a story with a villain protagonist?

After having a rough day, lions nor hyenas nor gazelles can read to escape the events of their lives.

Reading & Writing

Many of us like to read to escape. Many of us like to read to learn. Escapism and feeling good are said to be the two reasons people read. There are many people who write for the same reason, to escape. Or to teach. Or both. I don’t ever remember writing to escape, but I do write to teach. I read to escape, and I read to learn, and I read because a good story or a good book, such as nonfiction, feels good. Fiction even feels better.  It is still escapism no matter how you dress it up or undress it. Isn’t it not?

Both feeling good and escapism are emotions. And emotions move people, they move readers, and they move animals because one of the greatest emotions of all, and probably the oldest, is survival.

We’ve all heard the gazelles and the lion story, maybe more than we’d like to. But the hyena and the lion stories are just as abundant, though no one seems to write them. You can find those stories on YouTube and on the internet elsewhere.

The gazelles, the lion nor the hyena can read. If they can none of them have told me so.

They must face life and all the bs that comes flowing down with that avalanching brown crapped mudslide that can bury them and ruin their day. There is nothing like successfully outrunning a ferocious lion and then getting buried in stuff.

A gazelle, if he is in good health, doesn’t have any problems with his legs and is fast as a whip, he can escape the lion and survive. The lion will go hungry until he chases after a slower gazelle, or some other prey, and catches it or he perishes from starvation.

The hyena may be successful if the pack chases down a lion cub, or some prey that is too weak and inexperience to outrun the team of dog-like predators. Even a full-size lion, if he is too old, too weak, or injured from some previous incident, and too slow to outrun predators that are not normally predators, may be taken down by a large pack of predator hyenas if no other lions come to his rescue. Sometimes other lions will come to defend the pride. Sometimes they do not. Nature is not a kind girl and never has been and never will be.

Nature can be a villain or an antagonist just as man can. Nature can even be a more ferocious antagonist than a human monster.

A character may struggle against both nature and human monsters.

Stories allow us to escape the struggles of life and learn from characters, good and bad, human and animal, how they survive their adversaries and villains. At least for a little while. Maybe an hour or two.

Me?

A good book and I can escape. You? Same thing, a good book helps you escape a bad day in a world that seems forever unfair. The imaginary worlds we discover in a good fiction book is much safer than the real world outside, even if it is more dangerous in the story. Only our minds, not our bodies go to these fictional imaginary worlds.

We trade our world for someone else’s world, at least for an hour or two or more.  We trade our world for the author’s world. Sometimes we never want to come back because the author’s world is such a nice place we want to stay there. But then, reality sets in or the book comes to an end.

Why do you read?

Do you read to learn or to escape, or both, like I do? Or do you have some other reason?

Till next time, ~Cliff