When I was little, I used to envy those that knew how to read. I wanted to know what the billboards we passed on the street said, what those letters on the paper and milk carton meant.
I was sad that there was a world outside of myself that I couldn’t be a part of. Then one day I learned to read. I don’t remember the exact moment it clicked in my head. I just know that suddenly those letters that were senseless the day before, somehow came together and offered me what I always wanted.
The day my brain formed those connections that made it possible for me to understand written language changed my life.
From that point on I read everything I could find. I even read the parenting books my mom kept on her bedside table.
The simplicity of children’s books bore me really fast.
I wanted every new book to be an adventure in a territory I didn’t have yet access to.
I was lucky, I could get any book that my eyes laid on at the library.
I liked reading the titles and judging the covers before taking anything.
Except for that one day.
I felt uninspired and left it to fate. I closed my eyes and ran my finger on the back of all the spines of the novels on the shelf. Until I landed on one that would be “the one”.
If you have read “Summer Sisters” by Judy Blume, you already know that this is “the one” I’m referring to.
Odds are you don’t. (Even though she’s a known author, her books for children are more commonly read).
The story is about the life long friendship of two young women. It is a somewhat typical coming of age novel but it was the first in its genre that I ever read.
I was 9 years old.
I may not have been in the best position to agree to it but I made the pact with my favorite heroines.
NBO or die.
Never be ordinary.
An ordinary life is worse than death.
I wouldn’t say I’ve broken the pact. I don’t think I’m ordinary.
However I don’t think ordinary exists at all.
This is something I’ve learned for myself by revisiting the book over and over again.
The reason I was so keen on believing anything the characters said, felt and did was their humanity, full of its uniqueness that made them as real to me as anyone I could met on the street or at school.
Fictional entities, no matter how their stories play out, are a reflection of us and they’re never boring.
So why would we be?
Picking up this novel truly changed my life. I saw for the first time how we never truly know those closest to us, including our very own self.
I firmly believe there is a hidden story inside all of us.
This is why I decided to become a writer. To dig beneath the surface of my own life and others around me. To find what is there at the roots of our humanity.
Because that will never be ordinary.
What book(s) has inspired you or helped shaped your life?
Let me know in the comments!