Why short stories aren’t just for English class, they’re for your mental health

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The forbidden old library latter still beckons my name.

Sorry for nerding out but this had to be said.

I have recently discovered a trick to enriching my life and discovering new perspectives in a pinch. It grew from an abundance of time and space, also the fact that I had bought a hammock from amazon in the summer. You can just read short stories whenever you want, and there is no one who will stop you. 

This may seem very odd, but often times we put pressure on ourselves to sit and read a whole book. This is a great endeavor but for those who have limited time or limited attention spans, this is a great way to delve into a new universe. “Limited attention span” may seem hash but when the whole world seems like it’s on fire and our personal anxiety’s are at an all-time high we have an excuse. 

The same excuse we us to just endlessly scroll through TikTok or watch TV. But I would argue that rest and recovery is serious business. Your phone and computer are a bee hive of activity, different people trying to get your attention, politicians trying to get your vote and advertisements trying to get your money. 

Leaving this type of overwhelming state of activity is not as easy as clicking on a new open tab or turning you phone over. Sometimes it takes physical removal, a change in scenery to get our full and undivided attention to be full and undivided.

As with many of these weird advice columns I have written, it is personal. Sometimes over stimulation gets the best of me and like many when I buy books I buy to many. They sit in the corner of my room collecting dust and mocking my lack of intelligence and culture. But, I still find solace in the written word and its simplicity, when everyone else seems to want my attention.

This is when I re-discovered short stories. I read Flannery O’Connor’s “The displaced person.” It had a brilliant plot and exquisitely in-depth meaning. It stuck in my head for a couple of days. I ended up making my friend read it so I could have someone to talk to.

 It might seem nerdy but I missed that feeling of connection. Reading something that another person has read and immediately having a conversation about it. The exploration doesn’t just traverse the pages of the story but also the mind of the person your speaking to. Its not shallow or conjecture, like many political discussions, its real and tangible.

The experience alone is enchanting. You can pick someone’s story up and 30 minutes to an hour later, your life will have changed. You have just journeyed into a world and made it out the other side. 

 There was going to be something about my apprehension to write this somewhere down here at the end of the article, but I don’t think there will be. Short stories are great and allow anyone the chance to take a tiny little trip anytime they want. What’s not to love?

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