by Alex King
I have a rather lonely background. In my earlier years, I moved a lot. Too much to ever develop any friends. In prison, I learned to stay to myself, for reasons relating to survival. When I got out, I found I couldn’t connect well with others. I had led such an odd life, my views had become so unusual, that I always found myself to be an outsider. In lieu of actual, physical companions, I found friends within the press of written pages.
I recall clearly the onset of this shift. When I was very young, I would read things like Goosebumps and Animorphs. Those books were great, but left me dissatisfied. This persisted until, during our reading hour in class, I watched as a fellow classmate dove eyes-first into a thick tome. I sat and wondered what was inside the book. This desire to find out grew overnight into a nearly overwhelming longing.
The next day, I went to the library. Looking around, a title jumped out at me. Alice in Wonderland. I checked it out, and began a new life swimming in words, pages and ink. I began to read voraciously. Fantasy was my favorite. I read Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, The Young Wizard series, and, a true masterpiece (in my opinion), The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan. As I grew, though, fantasy wasn’t enough. My appetite began to grow past what fantasy could sate.
While behind bars, I happened along Plato’s works and fell instantly in love with logic. Desperation seized me. I needed more. Knowledge of this sort, modes of reasoning, was like a drug for me. Unfortunately, the place where I was at the time made getting this type of literature very difficult. I had to make do with light reading, random articles and other near-useless tidbits. It drove me insane, but I took what I could get.
Eventually, no amount reading was enough for me. I realized that I had stories of my own. Plots, characters and settings spun in my head. Feeling they deserved a voice of their own, I wrote. At first, it was just something to do when I had nothing else. Writing quickly built into an obsession unto itself. I wrote stories, poems, even lyrics. For a long time, I just couldn’t stop.
Driven by circumstantial loneliness and a natural curiosity, I discovered life within death. I found that books, motionless and silent, are teeming with vitality. Worlds within worlds, populated with people I called “friend”. They were a balm when I was in pain. They soothed my loneliness. They were my constant companions in an otherwise empty world.
Groove of the Day