By Christian Adrian Brown
Body, Mind and Quill
ABOUT THE COLUMNIST
Quadragenarian fitness model, lifestyle coach and bestselling author of the critically acclaimed Feast of Fates, Christian A. Brown received a Kirkus star in 2014 for the first novel in his genrechanging Four Feasts till Darkness series. He has appeared on Newstalk 1010, AM640, Daytime Rogers, and Get Bold Today with LeGrande Green. He actively writes and speaks about his mother’s journey with cancer and on gender issues in the media.
Summer is here, and with restrictions finally lifting in Canada, I intend to enjoy it. In addition to getting outside more, to stretching my legs and filling my lungs with the hazy, sweet breath of the season, I intend to revisit the habit of finding a quiet, shady tree and settling down for an afternoon read. The droning summer buzz lends itself to somnolence and meditative quiet. And in our shaded nooks, burrowed like happy animals, we can escape into otherworlds more perilous and exciting than our own.
Escapism is an essential activity in a Covid/ post-Covid world. Our societies have been decimated, our economies hemorrhaging and on life-support buoyed by trillions of dollars in monopoly money that one day, our generation or likely the ones following will have to reimburse. No one can reasonably be expected to soak in the magnitude of what we’ve collectively experienced and maintain a healthy and intact mind afterwards. We need to escape the media hamster-wheel-from-Hell of repeated soundbites and fearmongering playing ad infinitum. For the sake of their mental health, I’ve encouraged my friends to limit their social media and media exposure, as each of these platforms can hook us into an adverse-dopamine loop of addiction. As a trainer, I regularly prescribe books in addition to physical routines.
What better way to clear the mind of fear, uncertainty and doubt, to inspire hope, than to visit fantastical persons facing world-ending catastrophes and who survive through pluck, wit and daring? Heroic fantasy is particularly effective in this regard: painting desolate lands ruled by a Dark Lord or Lovecraftian forces that are no doubt saved from damnation through the combined efforts of a few, determined souls. Dark fantasy (my genre) takes us to an even deeper level of despair, before—hopefully—bringing us upwards and into the light. I prefer this genre the most as it allows for a tremendous degree of abstraction (and still familiarity, if framed correctly) while giving us a delirious emotional high from the eventual upswing; assuming there is one, but I don’t read the unrelenting darkness kind of books, I need my happy/ melancholy ending.
If fiction isn’t your cup of tea, and you need “real life” inspirations, there are as many biographies to check out as there are accomplished people in the world. Reading about another person’s success can often be the catalyst in helping us define how ours will manifest. After all, we can, and should, learn not only from our own mistakes but from mistakes in general. We can learn, too, from the historical information presented in such books. As with fantasy, biographies are often tales of rags to riches, obscurity to fame, sickness to health, paperboy to the president, and likewise motivate us to greatness or movement in our lives.
Forward motion. Impetus. Drive. Indeed, and with the state of the world being so broken, we should each be working on ourselves with this “pause” from the life we’ve been given. We should take the interruption to our routines as the necessary chaos for which we’ve been waiting to re-evaluate our goals, priorities and responsibilities. What better way to fix a society than to create an army of well-minded, well-balanced and happy individuals who are capable of rebuilding the world? Now go find that shaded tree in a quiet park and start dreaming, healing and rebuilding one story at a time.
Article originally Published in the August / September 2021 Issue: Summer Reads.