That’s why high school, or a crappy job, or any other restrictive circumstance can be dangerous: They make dreams too painful to bear. To avoid longing, we hunker down, wait, and resolve to just survive. Great art becomes a reminder of the art you want to be making, and of the gigantic world outside of your small, seemingly inescapable one. We hide from great things because they inspire us, and in this state, inspiration hurts.
One of the best articles I’ve ever read. Rookie Mag. By Spencer Tweedy.
My goofiest-sounding secret is that I also believe in magic. Sometimes I call it God and sometimes I call it light, and I believe in it because every now and then I read a really good book or hear a really good song or have a really good conversation with a friend and they seem to have some kind of shine to them. The list I keep of these moments in the back of my journal is comprised less of times when I was laughing or smiling and more of times when I felt like I could feel the colors in my eyes deepening from the display before me. Times in which I felt I was witnessing an all-encompassing representation of life driven by an understanding that, coincidence or not, our existence is a peculiar thing, and perhaps the greatest way to honor it is to just be human. To be happy AND sad, and everything else. And yeah, living is a pain, and I say I hate everyone and everything, and I don’t exude much enthusiasm when sandwiched between fluorescent lighting and vinyl flooring for seven hours straight, and I will probably mumble a bunch about how much I wish I could sleep forever the next time I have to wake up at 6 AM. But make no mistake about it: I really do like living. I really, truly do.
I have lived my whole life swearing there’s no truth more complete than Walt Whitman’s parenthetical line in the poem “Song of Myself”: “I am large, I contain multitudes.” I believe we are capable of anything—that anyone can be driven to do extreme harm; that anyone could be moved to radiate extreme love. I believe a person could switch from open-hearted tenderness to cruelty. I believe in nuance. I believe in contradiction. I believe in mistakes, and giving people the space, and the right, to make them.
But I believe in abuse, too. Clear-cut abuse. I believe that sometimes nuance is unhelpful in abusive situations, especially when it involves telling yourself that your abuser can “sometimes be kind and loving,” especially when your faith in someone’s multitudes keeps you in an abusive relationship instead of getting the hell out. I believe that trying to love someone who consistently hurts, and erases, and destroys you can turn you into an empty shell of nothing. These beliefs have been harder-earned.
“Empathy, In Excess” by Jenny Zhang, in Rookie Magazine. 2015.
It’s Teen Read Week and the theme is Get Away At Your Library so we’re celebrating books of EVERY genre imaginable that whisked us away from everyday life. Read on for 13 books that do an exceptional job of freeing you from reality: whether it’s to a fantasy world, the past, or simply into someone else’s shoes!
Sydney’s always felt invisible, but after her brother lands in jail because of a drunk-driving accident, she starts to question her place in the family and the world.
2. Atlantia by Ally Condie
Rio’s lived her whole life in the underwater city of Atlantia until one decision changes everything and she uncovers long-hidden truths about her mother’s death, her destiny, and the complex system that governs the divide between land and sea.
Ever since Hayley’s father returned from Iraq, she’s been on the move with him as he tries to escape the demons that torture him. Now, they’re back in the town she grew up in, but does she really have a chance at a normal life?
“All people—no matter who they are, or how they look, or even how they behave suffer through insecurities and a feeling of low self confidence—myself included, by the way. […] When I was in high school, in junior high, I suffered with a weight problem, and it made me feel bad about myself, and I didn’t feel pretty. And now that I’m older I can tell you something that I know—not that I think, but that I know. Beauty comes in all different sizes, shapes, colors, genders, everything. Beauty is everywhere. And YOU are beautiful. Even if you’re not feeling it, okay? That’s really important to remember. I know that this is the case.”