I stare at the dot, the beginning of the end. Focus shifts from the teacher lecturing in the background to the many possibilities this dot holds. It could become a map to my future, or a map of some place I imagined. Dots connected in a complex mass of dark lines, mountains interspersed, the paths rounding the standing monoliths. The dot could become the first stroke of an imagined language, words unfamiliar to the ears of all but one; or, the dot could simply become the first words of an essay. Ultimately, this represents my life. My focus constantly shifts from the present to the many future possibilities that watch me on the sidelines. Our paths could cross, but I continue to walk in the straight line, ignoring the present.
In retrospect, I firmly believe books introduced me to my escapist nature.
Books become my escape when I make my life tough. Stephen King beckons, and of course I comply. I sit on my bed, beside my bookshelf, and read as the clock ticks. My stress slips away. My attention snaps back to the clock, and my mind enters overdrive as the stress comes right back, ten fold. Before Stephen King became my favorite author, I drowned myself in fantasy. I read voraciously, each book a different experience, each paragraph a scene, each sentence a vibrant image in my mind, each word a resounding member of a symphony. Garth Nix, Philip Pullman, Angie Sage, and Cornelia Funke were the raindrops that slowly grew into puddles.
Funke wrote the masterpiece series known as the “Ink Trilogy”. Back in the 4th grade, it felt as if Funke took my hand and led me into an entirely different world. I experienced everything with Meggie and Mo, the two main characters of the “Ink Trilogy”. I felt what they felt, I saw what they saw, I heard exactly what they did. The romance between Farrid and Meggie was absolutely enchanting. Philip Pullman authored the trilogy titled “His Dark Materials,” a series that follows the still naïve Lyra as she grows into an adult. “His Dark Materials” taught me that the world is not all black and white. Lyra’s father, Lord Asriel, murders one of Lyra’s closer friends to open up a portal to a different dimension. While Lord Asriel commits murder, he seeks to end the oppression of the religious institution on his home dimension by stopping it at its source. I let myself become embroiled in every conflict or issue that arose.
Before I began reading novels, I sat in the yard and played in the grass, imagining paths that wound around copses of trees that comprised an endless forest. I talked to myself, as I vocalized the communications that occurred between the people of the forest I imagined. A falling leaf was a grand zeppelin, the dirt – a canvas. I looked at a puddle and saw an expansive ocean that teemed with life. Now, as a young adult, I consider what I did pretty strange, but it was the only way I knew how to express myself. Writing was not interesting to me then. I stuck to children’s books. I was a walking representation of untapped potential. My mind teemed with ideas just as the oceans I perceived.
Just before the third grade, my family and I moved from Grandview Plaza to Junction City, a move that changed my life, no matter how insignificant the distance was. I left the familiar, and I was thrust into a world of the unknown. We made excursions for groceries, visits to my grandfather and the rest of my family. This was not an exploratory trip. We were moving. Forever. I remember the first day of school: I stood rigidly among my peers in a line that rounded the block. Over time my rigidity subsided and I became comfortable with my new surroundings. My 3rd grade teacher, Mrs. Benton, slowly introduced me to reading. I learned cursive, and I began making daily trips to the library. I grew as a person and a student. I made my dive into the ocean.
Over time, escapism became procrastination. I fell into the ocean like a heavy stone, during sophomore year. I sunk, watching my progress be washed away by my very own idiocy. I sunk, seeing my future through a muddled lens, translucent, but clear enough to see what will become of me. I saw my future; a movie without sound, a character with no face. I drowned.
Luckily, I was able to forgive myself through the work and the time I invested during summer school.
Connect the dots, and you will see a story of development. Throughout my life, with the support of my teachers, friends, and family, I connected the dots that were presented to me, and even began drawing my own. As a young adult, the dots have become unclear, ethereal, beyond my reach – but not impossibly so. While, at times, water washes over the connections I draw, I recover and draw an even longer line that connects to two dots instead of one. I let myself drown from time to time, but ultimately I rise again.
Photo by Dina Anuar: https://oss.adm.ntu.edu.sg/putridin001/2015/08/24/dots-and-lines/