Sunday, April 14, 2013
L is for Lonely
I took a C. S. Lewis class in college. I've mentioned it before. But in that class, there were several days throughout the semester when I was doing the assigned reading and would come to certain parts (particularly in his autobiographical Surprised by Joy) when I would have to pause and just sit there and think to myself how well Lewis understood me, how he was giving me the words to describe feelings I'd never been able to describe before as well as feelings I didn't know I had. I'm not even talking about the religious stuff, although I do adore everything Lewis writes. I'm talking psychologically and emotionally. I finished that semester with the impression that Jack Lewis and I would have been very, very good friends.
This has happened other times, but I don't think as strongly as it did with Lewis. I also feel like I'm good friends with Wallace Stegner and Charlotte Bronte and Van Gogh and...okay, Meryl Streep.
So yes, it is Lewis who says perfectly what it is that books and other art do for us. We read to know that we are not alone. We experience and make art to know that we are not alone. In the transaction between creator and audience there is an openness and vulnerability on both sides that allows for a more quick and deep understanding than you almost ever get in real life.
Good writers and good books are the friends for the parts of us that are lonely.
What about you? What books have been your books, have understood you more deeply than most people can?