Dr. Richard Selzer is a surgeon and a favorite author of mine. He writes the most beautiful and compassionate descriptions of his patients and the human dramas they confront. In his book Letters to a Young Doctor, he said that most young people seem to be protected for a time by an imaginary membrane that shields them from horror. They walk in it every day but are hardly aware of its presence. As the immune system protects the human body from the unseen threat of harmful bacteria, so this mythical membrane guards them from life-threatening situations. Not every young person has this protection, of course, because children do die of cancer, congenital heart problems, and other disorders. But most of them are shielded—and don’t realize it. Then, as years roll by, one day it happens. Without warning, the membrane tears, and horror seeps into a person’s life or into the life of a loved one. It is at this moment that an unexpected theological crisis presents itself.
Life is a book, and there are a thousand pages I have not read. I would read them together with you, as many as I can, before I die -"
She put her hand against his chest, just over his heart, and felt its beat against her palm, a unique time signature that was all its own. "I only wish you would not speak of dying," she said. "But even for that, yes, I know how you are with your words, and, Will- I love all of them. Every word you say. The silly ones, the mad ones, the beautiful ones, and the ones that are only for me. I love them, and I love you.
I choose to write because it's perfect for me. It's an escape, a place I can go to hide. It's a friend, when I feel out casted from everyone else. It's a journal, when the only story I can tell is my own. It's a book, when I need to be somewhere else. It's control, when I feel so out of control. It's healing, when everything seems pretty messed up.
And it's fun, when life is just flat-out boring.