H. A. Byrd

Insight Belongs To Us All 

1888 Flammarion engraving. Colorized by Heikenwaelder Hugo.

Procedures for outwitting a bully, without becoming one. How to find strength in order to endure a crisis. What it means to cultivate trust and courage. The fact that we are not alone. These concepts are learned and relearned throughout history, perennial reminders as we work together to evolve into a species more refined and compassionate.

Since the days of the first grunts we made as cave-dwellers, our shared arts have helped guide us through hard times. As a species we know how to cope with trials and strife. We’ve learned this, over time. A deep wisdom connects us all, manifesting in music and artwork to mirror our society and inspire in us how to behave. Stories move us, invoking concern for others. Often they help us put our problems in perspective. Frodo has it a lot harder than most people, and as frightening as our world looks sometimes, I sure wouldn’t want to be him.

Good fiction helps to internalize knowledge that we may know is true yet still haven’t grasped in a meaningful way. Matters such as vengeance and jealousy have appropriate responses, but those aren’t always easy to perform. In anxious times, finding hope can be a buggar. Reading gives us practise with these things, and helps us to experience and understand abstract ideas.

To read a story is, in a way, to cheat death. Each fiction lets us live an extra life for a certain amount of time. What an amazing ability to have.

And, of course, stories are fun. That’s important. Offering a certain camaraderie, new experiences and challenging our perspectives, reading expands our imaginations. No matter what genre we choose, the artful positioning of words on the page creates a certain kind of magic. I think everyone can use some magic in their lives.

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