Skip to content

Keeping my Therapist Employed

May 4, 2011

I recently finished The Paris Wife: A Novel by Paula McLain and couldn’t put it down.  In fact, I would go so far to say that I read the novel in an obsessive frenzy.  I practically leapt from paragraph to paragraph, desperate to follow the journey of Ernest Hemingway and his first wife, Hadley.  I was a fervent and impatient reader. My little fingers couldn’t flick the tabs of my Kindle fast enough.  I simply loved this novel.

But the obsession continued after I put the novel down.  I immediately bought one of Hemingway’s books after finishing McLain’s historical fiction novel.  Then I bought a second.  Then I read reviews on two others, but stopped myself before purchasing.  I’ve entered a brief stage of literary freak-dom.  It’s been a little intense, even for me.  It honestly doesn’t bother me that I loved McLain’s novel so much, or that I am now so fascinated by both Hemingway’s writing and his personal life.  It doesn’t bother me that, while reading,  I got so caught up in the stories and their language that I wanted the books to swallow me whole.

Those things, I believe, just make me a lover of literature.  However, it’s clear that I have an undeniable preference for living inside of a story.  In fact, sometimes I would prefer to spend an hour walking around with the characters in a novel than I would with people in my own real life.  Is this the work of a good therapist to unpack?  I think so.

I shall also offer another scenario for therapeutic scrutiny.  Aside from preferring the stories of great literary characters, I can confess that I also prefer the poorly written, poorly acted stories of American teenagers.  My sister recently lent me copies of the seasons of Dawson’s Creek.  It is no secret that I have loved this show since it first appeared on the WB in my formative middle school years.  It is one thing to love a show like that as an adolescent, but it is another thing entirely to love said show as an adult.  Against my better judgement, I have spent the last 5 nights with Dawson’s Creek episodes running on my computer.  I wish I could tell you I have had enough of the show, but that would be a lie.  I’m completely sucked in.  It’s pathetic.

I’ve thought a great deal lately about my love of story, and how easy it is for me to give over to fictional characters’ lives so completely.  Whether amazing novel or (dare I even type this) teenage television series, I am enraptured by the intensity of the drama within a story.  Perhaps I love it so much because it doesn’t exist in my own life.  Or perhaps it does exist, but the dilemmas are so much easier to solve from the perspective of observer.  I can shout at Hadley’s passivity with Ernest in The Paris Wife with full confidence, because I know better and more, than she does.  I can giggle along when Pacey Whitter says the most doting thing to his girlfriend in Dawson’s Creek because such lines don’t exist in real life; they are only created within the limitless boundaries of a television writer’s room.  Nothing confines the stuff of stories.  They are open for life to be written exactly as we want it – full of drama and passion and mystique.  And let’s be honest, I’d love to script my own life story.  I’d love to have the good pleasure of walking around a perfectly crafted and manicured character journey.

I know that this is impossible.  And I know that this is quite silly, and desiring a  life like this is bordering on schoolgirl fantasy.  I know this is the stuff of my next therapy appointment.  But I also know that this ability to indulge like a little girl in the life of a story is the stuff of a dynamic imagination.  An open mind.  A moveable spirit.  While the constant yearning to lose myself in a novel is something I both fight and accept in equal measure, it’s not something I’m willing to give up.  Not just yet.  I’m not yet convinced my life isn’t the better for it.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Amy G permalink
    May 4, 2011 9:03 pm

    I’m completely “obsessed” with Harry Potter–books and films, for much of the same reason. I think we need stories, and I think we suffer from a lack of stories [real narratives, not sound-bytes and contextless news articles] as adults.

    I think I loved reading as a child because it was an escape–not that I had much I wanted to escape from, it was just easier to live in the imaginative, beautiful worlds of stories.

    I think now, the stories that I love the best are ones that contain a resonance to the story of redemption that I believe God is weaving. So I love many of the same stories, but because I believe they are unique vehicles of “truth” that are so desperately necessary. Not all truth can be known through logic, and story [especially of the fantasy/sci fi genre, IMO] gets at those more mysterious truths in important and enjoyable ways.

    ❤ Amy

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: