Compassion, Love and Survival

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Let me preface this by saying I am not familiar with  fantasy or sci-fi fiction, nor thrillers because they’re not my fiction of choice. Nor am I familiar the author who is featured in this piece.  However, I can say, that it was my pleasure to glean from this interview that I listened to featuring him and two of his biggest fans.  It really touched my heart.

Compassion, Love and Survival by K.D.

I was listening to a link that a friend posted yesterday on Facebook (thanks Chi-Chi) and the true story that was told of a 15-year-old boy who ran away to meet his idol. This teen was something of an outcast in school, the product of a divorced home, his mom was remarried and his step-dad was not the best person. So, he read fantasy/sci-fi/thriller type books to escape his reality.  One particular author (Piers Anthony) was his favorite. He read every drop of everything this man wrote. He identified with Piers and the works he created. He felt so disconnected from his own reality that, in his 15-year-old mind, he desired to create a new reality…one with Piers in it.

He proceeded to withdraw his savings from the bank, buy a plane ticket and flew to Florida, all in pursuit of his desired new life.  His mission was to find where Piers Anthony lived and hopefully be asked to live with him and his family. He sent a postcard to his mom telling her he had to leave for a while but not to worry, he’d be back in a year or so because he had to figure some things out.  Once in Florida he went through various steps to find Mr. Anthony’s house and he did find it.  Mr. Anthony, surprised at the intrusion,  invited him in, listened to this young man’s troubles, and allowed him to spend the night.  He advised the young man that he could not live with him, but, he could try to help him find either local help for runaways or help him return back home.  The young man chose the latter.  After returning home, things didn’t necessarily get any better. But, because he’d had this encounter with his favorite author and because he was listened to, it changed something inside of him. He endured and conquered his teen years and successfully entered adulthood.

From a mom’s perspective hearing this, I could totally empathize with the shock his mom must’ve felt, because I would absolutely, positively FREAK OUT (as any loving parent would) not knowing where my kid was. Once you become a parent, your life is not about you anymore. You care for  these new human beings selflessly, above your own needs and desires. You hope so much for them. You desire for them to be successful and happy and fulfilled. And you ALWAYS want them to be safe and to protect them from as much harm in the world as possible.  Thankfully, this child was unharmed in his journey and was able to find what he was looking for, at least in part.

During this interview, a call was arranged so that this now adult man could call Piers Anthony to thank him for the impact he’d made on him all of those years ago. Piers remembered the whole encounter and he said a few things that really stuck out to me.

1. Piers Anthony spoke of his own struggles as a teen in a posh private school (where there were “upper crust” and “lower crust” students). He was ‘lower crust’ by his own account. He, too, had troubles at home and didn’t fit in at school. He was made fun of and made to feel strange, not good enough, etc. As the interviewer said of the author, “He was just an angry kid who muddled through like everyone else.” Piers Anthony, too, turned to reading books to escape his reality.  He said, “People sneer at escapism. Well…there are those of us who need it [to survive]” (addition mine).  Specifically, to survive the TEEN YEARS, in my opinion.  Teen years are a very tumultuous time.  They are years where we’re trying to figure out who we are and what we should be. We’re trying to survive social pressures and attitudes. We’re trying to find where we fit in.  When you’re a ‘nerd’ or an ‘outcast’ or ‘invisible’ (i.e. not in the popular crowd), life in high school can be very, very difficult.  Add to that problems at home.  But, I submit to you that there are even those teens who are in the “popular crowd” who feel out-of-place due to insecurity and rejection and so forth.  They cover it up by the business of being ‘popular’ or ‘over the top’. If they put on an act of confidence, then people won’t see their insecurities or weaknesses.  The sad part is when they choose use their popularity to demean others who are less so.  Or when they soothe their own insecurities by making themselves look bigger or better, while making others look smaller or insignificant.

2. Piers Anthony gave the then 15-year-old kid this advice, “Keep your head down. Endure it and in a few years you can get out”, speaking of his stressful home life with his step-father.  This advice could very well have applied to his school experience as well.  It made me think of my children, who have their own challenges in relation to their academic experiences, the social aspects of school, etc.  But, also, my children have experienced the divorce of their parents. Not easy for any child. I, too, was the product of a divorced home.  I want to find a way to tell my children…things will get better…just keep pressing through.

3. This next statement meant the most to me. I could relate to it myself, for it validated some of my own feelings, and it gave me insight into what my teens (and teens in general) may be going through. It also gave me pause to think of the several adults I know who fit these descriptions – and gives me a bit more understanding and I daresay compassion for folks who may be somewhat abrasive.  Here is what Piers Anthony said in the author’s notes of his book Fractal Mode, “One thing you who had a secure or happy childhood should understand about those of us who did not…We who control our feelings , who avoid conflicts at all costs or seem to seek them, who are hypersensitive, compulsive, self-critical, workaholic, and above all survivors…We’re not that way from perversity and we cannot just ‘relax’ and ‘let it go’. We’ve learned to cope in ways you never had to.”

I have come to no solid conclusions after listening to this interview.  But, maybe that’s not necessary. I have, however, come away with compassion, insight and understanding.  Maybe you will also.  If you’d like to listen to the interview, see the link below.

Once this link opens to the webpage, click “launch player” to hear the interview:

http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/470/show-me-the-way

You are loved ♥

© 2013 Compassion, Love and Survival – KD Corner/K.D.

photo credit: tenchinodojo.be

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2 thoughts on “Compassion, Love and Survival

  1. An excellent post!! After all these years, I finally understand a little more about myself – at least as it pertains to those unlamented teenage years. Thank you, Piers Anthony – and Kenny T.

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