This I Believe

rebekka - colorado springs, Colorado
Entered on November 3, 2005
Age Group: 30 - 50
Themes: creativity
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26 August 2005

The Healing Power of Books

I believe in the healing power of the written word. I believe in the therapeutic effect of reading. I believe in the magic that comes in the form of books.

As a child growing up in Germany, books literally became a lifeline for me. I was raised in an extremely angry and dysfunctional household. Although growing up in that house was not easy for my brother and sisters, it was twice as hard for me. I was different, because I was the outsider, the stepchild. All of us had our own way of dealing with the stress of growing up in a family that was in a constant state of war. All of us were looking for an escape. My link to sanity was books.

Everything in my life changed when I entered school and learned how to read. I finally found something that gave me a sense of peace and the little bit of tranquility I was looking for. My path to sanity started in 1969, when I was just six years old. My very own little miracle happened on Christmas Eve that year. My uncle stopped by that evening to give us our presents. I remember tearing open the package with great anticipation. What I discovered was a huge book of fairytales. It was the biggest, most colorful book I had ever seen. I remember flipping through the pages. I realized right then and there that in this book was magic. It contained all the great stories by the brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Anderson. This was love at first sight. These tales of princess and witches, of dwarfs and mermaids, had the power to transport me to any place in the world. They let me join in their adventures, allowed me to feel part of the magic. These simple fairytales permitted me to experience a sense of freedom and inner piece. I was able to escape the upheaval in my daily routine just by reading these stories. Although I did not understand it at the time, the tales in that book saved my life. These magic words provided me with the escape I needed. I must have read those stories a thousand times, and every time I read them, I discovered something new.

I am now grown up and I have three wonderful daughters of my own. I taught all three girls how to read at a very early age, because I wanted them to share my passion for books. I wanted them to love reading as much as I do. I also wanted them to have their escape if and when they were ever in need of one. I am very happy to say that my children indeed grew to love the written word. I believe that they in turn will pass that love on to their children.

In one way or another, in good times and in bad times, books have always been a very important part of my life. I believe the simple act of opening a book and reading has a certain healing power. The written word always provides me with a sense of calm. Little miracles unfold before my eyes every time I open a book. I still approach each new volume with a sense of awe and anticipation. Even as I grow older this excitement has not changed for me.

I believe that some of you share in my love of books. A few of you might even understand how the simple act of reading fairytales helped save a little girl. With so much unrest and uncertainty in the world, just open a book and believe.