You Are What You Read

I broke up with Stephen King about three years ago. We had a solid go of it for a while- I’d read his books, he’d scare me half to death, and then a few months later I’d forgive him and we’d pick up where we left off- the next book. We would then do the whole charade over again.

Stephen King novels make my soul feel a little dark. I understand that many may not react to them in the same way, but for me, I always left the books feeling like more life was drained out of me than was given to me. In my opinion, this is never how you should leave a book. Books, at least the good ones, are works of art. Because of this, some of even the heaviest of novels have left me thinking, maybe even crying, but always feeling some sense of good. They always leave me feeling as though my life is in some way better for having read them.

Stephen King books don’t offer me this. They’re entertaining, yes. I fly through them. I enjoy that adrenaline rush that they offer, that need to know what will happen if you bury a human in a pet cemetery.

But after all is said and done- when the book is closed, and I’m laying in the dark at 2am horrified of these new and dark thoughts that my imagination now has the capacity to create after spending time in the mind of the King of the horror story, I begin to wonder if his books are really something that add value to my life, to my library.

For me the answer was no. So I broke up with Stephen King. I’m sure he really misses me…

Writing has always been a type of yoga for me. It connects my mind, body, and soul in a way that no downward dog has ever come close to. When I write, I see a direct reflection of what is going on in the deepest parts of me. I see the reflection of narratives that I never even knew my mind was thinking. I see fears and anxieties that somehow never even rose to the surface. I see a direct impact of what I consume.

When I fall out of a pattern of habitual writing, I lose touch with what is going on in the deeper parts of me. I consume movies, books, TV shows, and music, and I never actually see how they impact me. It isn’t until I start to write that I notice I am suddenly thinking at a Gilmore Girls dialogue pace or using Faulkner level depth in my detail.

My art takes unique snippets of what I am consuming at the time and puts it into my own tone and style. This is kind of what art is- nothing new under the sun, right?

My writing is a deep reflection of what is going on inside of my soul, and my soul is a direct reflection of what is going on both in the forefront and background of the world around me.

I think a lot of “creatives” have this. They have their painting, or singing, or whatever form to really see what is going on beyond their own surface. They have an outlet to illustrate the impact of their own consumption.

People fear for the soul of creatives- they think we’re sensitive and touchy, but I don’t really fear for the creative parts of me. What I always fear is what becomes of me when I don’t pursue my creative outlet.

When I stop engaging in this creative part of me, I only consume, but never regurgitate, and in these seasons I have absolutely no real insight into what life and culture is doing to me. In these seasons, I have no way of seeing what color my soul is, what is impacting me positively or negatively in the entertainment industry.

When I put distance between my mind and my soul, when I put distance between me and my own creative outlet, I accept entertainment at face value. When I read for entertainment and entertainment only, I find myself rooting for the adulterous behavior in the novel because the author wrote the wife to be horrible, and the “other woman” to be perfect. When I use entertainment as only an escape, and stop engaging my own thoughts in the process, I lose context of the magnitude of the sins at large, because I lose context of my own moral compass. I simply fall into the blissful bunny trail of wanting to be entertained.

Some writers are masters. Some writers can write wrong and make it look so right, and they do it just because they want to prove that they can. When you shut off your moral compass for the sake of being entertained, when you enter a movie or book without your mind fully ready to process everything and instead you allow it all to simply float through you, you may have no clue what you are actually consuming.

You may argue that it was only for entertainment, but art in every form was designed to paint your soul, and you may have no clue what color yours is being painted deeper down than your eyes can see.

So beautiful girl, in a world where we simply need escapes, I challenge you to remain mindful. I can’t tell you what to watch and what to avoid. Only you know how your heart handles different subjects and tones. But I do challenge you to really consider how the things that you consume make you feel. How do they impact you to the core?

Your soul is being painted every day with every book, movie, song, and TV show you choose to consume.

I challenge you to look deep down- do you like the color?

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