A hero is often a person that does something extraordinary and exemplary; he is someone who inspires people to move forward or helps them do things better. My hero, however, is not a person. My hero cannot speak, but its words invariably offer me a solace like none other. My hero cannot move, yet it takes me to faraway places. My hero cannot see, yet it shows me everything. My hero cannot heal, but it gives me a reason to cling on to hope even in the darkest phases of my life. Books are most commonly read to do away with your boredom or because some curriculum requires you to do so, but I read them to remind myself that no matter how tough the going might get, there is and there always will be a way forward. Nothing good lasts forever, but aren’t bad things equally transient in nature?
I have never had a place I could really call home; my dad and I used to live with our family or his girlfriend at the time. We would shift bases from house to apartment to trailer. Books were the only constant in my nomadic life. When this dynamic and unstable lifestyle inevitably pushed me into the firm clutches of depression, my dad vehemently denied it and asserted that I was just seeking undue attention. I would barely eat or leave my room; hours would pass as I kept staring at the ceiling. There seemed no way out as every passing day pushed me deeper into the morass of misery. As crazy as it might sound now, I was nothing more than a walking corpse in those days of my life; an aimless zombie, who was devoid of an iota of self-awareness or self-belief.
My friends had become worried, for I no longer laughed or smiled. By that point, I had altogether given up on my reading habits. It wasn’t uncommon for me to talk about suicide as I felt that nobody really needed or wanted me.
As I hit rock bottom, my close friend brought me a book, one that I had read previously, but had never owned it. Since I had faint memories of its plot, I decided to check whether it could draw my interest again. The more I read, the more I realized how real the story was. It dawned on me that rekindling my desire to live was the only way I could be my old self again. I just had to fight. Whenever I felt down, I would turn my attention to the things that had gone right for me. It would be an exaggeration to state that reading that one book helped me get out of my depression, but it did ensure that I understood and accepted the need to try. Reading helped me rediscover my long-lost discipline, happiness and, most importantly, motivation. It opened the doors to an endless world of role models, whose words would serve as a beacon of hope in times of distress.
Margaret Fuller’s following quote couldn’t have summed up the importance of reading any better:
Today a reader, tomorrow a leader.
Now, having already completed my college studies, I am making a fairly decent living and am in the process of building my own company. And I owe it all to the power of books.
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