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    • Heather Alani

    • March 10, 2014 in Columnists

    Escape with a writer — pick up a book and read

    “You need to travel, see the world; it is the only way to broaden your way of thinking.”  My husband tries to persuade me this is the only way to really educate myself about the world.  This may be partially true, I agree.

    It’s wonderful to travel, but how much do you really see?  How do you view the places you have been?  Unless you live there and mingle with the culture, how do you really gain an educated view?

    So, I tell him where I’ve been with an exaggerated smile.  I have traveled around the world, embraced other cultures and even sipped tea with the queen while practicing elegant grace.

    My heart wrapped around Anne Frank, a victim of the Holocaust; I stayed right beside her, praying she would escape Hitler’s impending horror.  I have experienced the past and delved head first into the future.

    I watched in breathtaking awe as lions pranced beneath the vivid colors of Africa’s sky.  I was there when Achilles cried out and rode into war. I saw with my own eyes men fight, bleed and die.

    Philosophers took the time to offer me wisdom.  I broke bread with the natives; they taught me to see the beauty of nature and how our lives are interconnected with every living being.

    I cried with Princess Diana as I realized mental solitude was her life’s goal. She showed me how fame and riches can never fulfill raw human need.  I even met with Jesus on the road to Damascus; he showed me that love is the only thing in life that really matters.

    I laughed along with the Jewish people as they grandly celebrated Yom Kippur; I saw how we are different, yet exactly the same. I shared in humility as the Muslims fasted for a long hot month during Ramadan. I saw that their sacrifice was a yearly reminder to be grateful for comfort and to not forget those who suffer.

    I required no ticket to go where I’ve been.  Instead, I laid down my views and for a moment took up those of another.

    I picked up a book and met the writer on his or her plane. It is here that I dream, play what-ifs, or try on another way of living for a time.  As I merge with the writer, we become one, bigotry erases and a grander mentality submerges.  I am given a set of glasses that allow me to see, relate to other cultures, and invite unity.  The empathy I gained helped me to see through another’s eyes, and built a bridge across cultures, causing my own ignorance to die.

    Go escape with the writer, experience the plane of “what if.” I am sure when you come back, you will agree, there really is no better way to travel and broaden your way of thinking.

    Go pick up a book and read.


      • Angela

      • March 10, 2014 at 9:57 am
      • Reply

      Heather, your column is well stated and so true! I really enjoyed reading it!
      “A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only once.” -George R.R. Martin

      • Beautiful words. It creates a certain passionate empathy within a reader. You learn to relate to situations outside of yourself. The ability to “eat the meat and chuck the bones” causes incredible personal growth. Thank you!

    • I read 52 books a year and I have traveled the world. I love to travel and explore and I also love to read. But traveling wins every time.

      • There is nothing like being able to clear your mind by entering a new environment. Do you think you gain the same perspective from visiting as you would from delving into the mind of a native culture?

      • Maya North

      • March 10, 2014 at 11:56 am
      • Reply

      Reading saved my life. It is highly likely I would have committed suicide as a child had I not had the escape of books. But oh, the places I’ve been, the wisdom I’ve been given — the deliciousness of hearing the voice of an author from even thousands of years ago speaking directly to me… Well done, love <3

      • I, too, spent my entire childhood absorbed in a book! I remember the reading teacher assigning books for class discussion. I would run home and read the entire book. I was ready for the next one! I locked myself in a closet with “Little Women” which seemed to be the most enormous book I had ever seen. I always felt empty and hungry when a book came to an end! I had fallen so deeply in love with every character and now I had to go meet new ones! Thank you maya! <3 <3 (I kept my first column on the delicate cycle!) 🙂

    • Advocate Advocate Adovcate! The answer to all of life’s questions are found in a book! Magic sister absolute magic.

      • That means so much to me coming from one of the best writer’s I have ever known! After all, it was you who showed me how to do the devil’s dance with words! <3

      • davidlacy

      • March 10, 2014 at 1:43 pm
      • Reply

      Welcome aboard … and a wonderful starting piece too! Unfortunately too many of my own students HATE reading (I personally can’t even fathom that), but I am frequently thrilled when I see several hands pop up when I ask a class who enjoys reading.

        • Heather Alani

        • March 10, 2014 at 2:01 pm
        • Reply

        I have that problem with my oldest son. I never understood how anyone cannot enjoy reading! There is nothing better! Thank you David, that means so much.

      • Roberta Kravette

      • March 11, 2014 at 6:09 am
      • Reply

      Agreed that books will take you to places you can only dream about. In “real life” we have innumerable restrictions – time, family and financial responsibilities, physical limitations – the list is endless. But our dreams are expanded and new ones formed by personal witness. Since those young “chapter books” days a life time ago, books have always been the first thing I pack. And today books by local authors are the first thing I look for when I arrive. And they are what I cherish long after the trip, in words or by some carrier, is over. We don’t need to choose one way or the other. Heather, you mentioned that only by living in a place do we know it. I don’t completely agree. We can only know a single moment in time, no matter how many of those we live in or read or about. Each of our moments, our “stories” will be different from everyone else’s – even if we are standing shoulder to shoulder in it. This is why we write. This is why we read. Oh, give me moments to explore, yours and mine – on the page and on foreign ground!

        • Heather Alani

        • March 11, 2014 at 10:28 am
        • Reply

        Roberta! What wonderful words! You are correct because all of our perceptions are different. It is only through a writers eyes we can share the same exact moment in time! Great thoughts, bravo!!

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