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The Childish Joy of Fiction

Humans are, by nature, a nostalgic lot. Most of the things that make us happy are things we enjoyed when we were younger. We do those things in an effort to regain those feelings of "happiness" that we experienced the last time we did those things. Most of our happiest memories date back to our childhood. Perhaps it was something you enjoyed during your school vacation, when you were free to roam and do as you pleased. Or maybe it was something that helped you escape the misery of school, or it took your mind off of problems at home. The great Chinese philosopher Mencius said, "Great is the human who has not lost his childlike heart." The thought that immediately springs to mind is fiction--more specifically, fantasy. I was a bit of an unusual child. A know-it-all, often excluded from activities with my peers, and sort of the ugly duckling of the lot. Not an unfamiliar story for many people. I have many happy memories of swimming, playing with friends, and spending time with my family. But some of my happiest memories are of curling up with a good book and drowning out everything around me. I literally spent an entire day (dawn till dusk) reading the Complete Works of Sherlock Holmes, a gift for my 10th birthday. While history was absolutely fascinating, it was fiction that called to me. I loved to imagine the worlds of famous fictional characters like Captain Ahab, Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Poirot, and Robin of Locksley. Any time I needed an escape, I dove into a book. For a short time, I was transported away from my problems to a place where my childish mind could marvel at the new and unknown. Fast forward a decade or two, and I'm still in love with fiction. I'm a grown-up (sort of) with all sorts of parental, spousal, and professional responsibilities and desires. But I haven't lost my childlike heart or mind. I still love the new and unknown I find in the pages of fiction--especially fantasy. It's wonderful to be able to escape my problems and read about someone else's toil and struggle. It helps to put my problems into perspective, and it allows me a short respite from all of the things life throws at use grown-ups. Sure, people may think it's "childish" to love fantasy, science fiction, superheroes, and comic books. So what? Everyone has something they do in an effort to regain those childish feelings of "happiness" that is missing from their lives. They don't share my wide-eyed child-like imagination when I dive into a new book, but in the end, we all need an escape. I refuse to allow life to take away my childlike heart and mind, and neither should you!