I started reading Shakespeare at a very young age, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, in particular. School sanctioned reading and homework assignments bored me to no end as a young precocious child in the public school system in a middle-class suburban town. I wanted to rebel without getting into trouble, while maintaining a spot on the Honor roll. A victimless thrill, if you will. This balance was not difficult to find in the library. I spent most of my free time in the Safety Harbor Public Library as it was on my way home from school. My library card was a passport into a place that held the most exciting adventures and doomed romances. It was a life that I had no knowledge of, but I wanted to have this beautiful lust for life.
Of course, I didn’t understand the words in A Midsummer Night’s Dream but I felt them. Those odd-looking formations of letters filled in the gaps in my DNA. They swam into my bloodstream nourishing my tiny soul. I knew what it was to be engaged inside of my own mind and become completely lost within an overactive imagination. For a child, hungry for experience and curious about the true nature of life, I was hooked mind, body, and soul into the literary world. Like Alice, I too, fell through the rabbit hole of a long life embroiled in literature. All the love, death, and comedy one child could handle was the best part of opening yourself up to other worlds.
The worst portion of giving yourself over to literature is the sensitivity to the cruelty of real life. Being that exposed and willing to embrace life, at such a young age, there is no way to balance the rush of emotion. There is no filter. There is no net to catch me from the crushing fall of the unbridled pain that comes from an open soul. A wound ready for salt was how I walked around for most of my young life. I let a lot of people hurt me very deeply because I had no real guide to managing myself. My heart was continuously broken. Eventually, I walled my heart up like an Edgar Allen Poe tale.
The details of a life without an available soul doesn’t really matter anymore. I do not regret the impact of literature in my life, and have recovered from the darkness – living fully in color. It took a long time to get that vulnerability back and learn how to be a normal person, for that, I am eternally grateful.