Monday, April 15, 2013

Confessions of a Bookaholic

"When I shop, the world gets better, the world IS better, but then it's not, and I need to do it again."
Rebecca Bloomwood - "Confessions of a Shopaholic"
After a long week of studying and a morning full of intense tests, I was ready to vegetate on Saturday night. And since the best form of vegetation in my mind is chilling and watching a movie, I decided to do just that. Except, rather than having a boring time by my lone onesome, my Mom, sisters and I decided to have a girls chick flick night. I had checked out this movie called "Confessions of a Shopaholic," which was definitely classified as chick flick and was perfect for the occasion. The whole story is about this girl - Rebecca Bloomwood - that is insanely addicted to shopping and is way over her head in debt. But the killer is, she is a journalist for a finance magazine. As in, she is drowning in debt while advising people on how to handle their finances.
And of course her boss is single, really good looking, and has a British accent.........
Anyhoo, at one point in the movie, a debt collector spills the beans and all of Rebecca's lies about debt come tumbling out. With hurt and disappointment, her boss/boyfriend asks her to tell the truth for once about why she shops.
That's when she says the above quote.
As you could probably guess, the movie ends well - honestly, it is a chick flick - but that quote stuck in my head so profoundly that I knew I needed to give it some thought. The predicament that the quote described sounded so familiar to me, which confused me because I am not a shopaholic AT ALL! I don't mind shopping once in a very great while, but in general it's not usually my thing. 
Suddenly it clicked.
I just had to change one word.
"When I read, the world gets better, the world is better, but then it's not, and I need to do it again."
For years I have used reading - namely novels - as my escape from reality. Whenever I was angry, confused, hurt, disappointed, or whatever, I would read a novel. I could predict a novel. People were perfect in novels. (And yes, perfectly flawed is a form of perfection. You avid novel readers out there know what I'm talking about.) :-) I could escape my own problems and read about the romanticized problems of others and the happy resolves that followed their conflicts.
Novels were my escape.
A couple years back, I challenged myself to read no fiction for a year. It was really good for me and I thought that I would never get that hooked on fiction again.
Oh, you know, after a while you think, "I'll just read one." And then one turns into three and that multiplies into five and, well you get the idea. It became an addiction. I honestly didn't think of it as an addiction until I watched "Confessions of a Shopaholic." Sure, her addiction was shopping, but the way she looked at shopping was the same way that I looked at reading novels.
Now here's my point. Reading novels is not bad. However, if you look to novels, or shopping, or alcohol, or pot to make you happy, then you are making that thing an idol in your life.
Whoa! I know! I just compared reading a novel to smoking pot. That's extreme. But the more I think about this the more it becomes clear.  As our pastor said in his sermon on Sunday, "You cannot have Jesus as your buddy, your last resort, etc. He must be your Cornerstone, the only thing who directs your life." If in my search for happiness and joy, reading a novel comes before seeking Jesus, then I have made that silly book an idol.  Please don't misunderstand. It's not just novels. This applies to anything out there. The question I had to ask myself was, "Is Jesus my source of everyday happiness and joy? Or I am searching for that joy elsewhere?"
I still love novels. (Hey, I'm in process of writing a novel writing course to teach children that English and writing can be fun.) But Christ must be first and foremost. No fictional character can compare with Him. And that my friends is fact, not fiction.

1 comment:

Daughter of Eve said...

I have come to the same realization, although for me it was when I was forced into the real world and away from reading novels. Suddenly, I was so busy with college I literally had no time for reading. And that's when I saw for the first time that I wasn't familiar with my own self and my own life - I didn't know how to deal with it. I was so used to living others' lives, escaping and drowning myself in them, that I frankly didn't know how to live my own.
I still believe in the beauty and power of fiction. Fiction, especially fairy tales, helped shape my worldview, reinforced in me the truth that happy endings DO exist and there IS ultimate right and wrong, even though the real world seems to defy all of that. Fiction makes sense out of a chaotic, awful place. And I don't think it's always wrong to escape your life to live someone else's. But when THAT is your shelter and your refuge - yes, you need to rethink your life.

I still want to run to fiction. All the time. But I can't, and I think that's actually a good thing - I am learning the hard way that make-believe can't solve all your problems. It's kind of like what Maria says in Sound of Music - "Liesl, you can't use school to escape your problems. You have to face them." Your problems don't go away when you ignore them. You can hide, but they're still there.

And yes. I am rambling. But I'm glad to hear that someone else feels the same way. I'm not perfect - I don't yet know the balance between loving and soaking up the beauty called fiction and facing my own life and reality, but I'm trying to get there. ;)