Christians have told me: I can’t imagine how do you go along through life without the support of God, without His comfort. What they don’t understand is that I find that comfort in our own human creation, in our art. And by art I don’t necessarily mean beautiful art. I mean those pieces that shock your world when you find them. I mean the things that fellow human beings created when they were feeling exactly the same as you do now. I mean the art humans use to communicate what they believe is important enough to be preserved, carefully transforming their insights into something on the outside, something tangible, observable, that can be understood.
Different mediums affect me differently. Songs are powerful for me when they get attached to a moment, or a period in time. The music I love always brings me back to something. I’m a 17 years old kid dancing in London every time I hear Mr. Brightside. The first man I really loved speaks to me through Silvio Rodriguez’s songs. Ben Howard and his Small Things take me back to that beach at night in San Sebastian, when I was afraid of coming back home. Don’t think twice, it’s alright it’s a plane to the unknown. Howling will always be you, driving me home while I was falling in love from the passenger seat. Ceremony reminds me that no matter how broken I feel I still should walk with my head high, as I did every day last winter—because there’s so much beauty in pain and we should honor that beauty.
I read poetry when I feel delicate, when things are still so fresh that to try to explain them it’s not yet the point. I see poetry exactly like that, a photograph of a feeling. My favorite poems are those that when you read them, you don’t think. It’s not your analyzing brain what gets activated. It’s your gut, your heart, your fingertips. It’s your skin. When you read that kind of poem, you straight feel what the author was feeling, a feeling in real-time. Nothing leaves you emptier than an artificial poem and nothing shocks you more than an honest one. Those ones, they are scary to write. I only write poetry when the only thing I can do is to write poetry. And I do it mediocrely; but how lucky we are to live among people that are brilliant at it.
I could fill many pages trying to explain what literature means to me. I think the only reason why I like writing is because I feel I should give back to the source that has defined me. I must do something in return, right? For those endless hours of my childhood reading in the street, at home, in beaches, in bed, in cars, at school, at the dinner table. I must do something in gratitude for the days I could stop being a teenager for a while, as I had books where I could hide; I must thank the fantasy that welcomed me during those lonely breaks, when I traveled to many places and lived many lives.
Books continue to teach me everything. It was Joan Marsé who showed me that what makes love beautiful it’s not a happy ending. It was through the eyes of two Jacks, Kerouak and London, how I understood that to be passionately alive is not to be content, comfortable in the light-weight happiness our society cherishes. Through the Russian classics I learned not to force life to be simple. Kundera told me about the dangers of judgement; Bukowsky showed me a Los Angeles I wanted to see; I never understood sensuality until I read Vargas Llosa talking about Egon Schiele; I’ve never met anybody smarter than Joan Didion. I’ve never liked anybody more than I like Holden Caulfield.
Books also inspire me to open up. That’s what they did, the authors whose work saved my life many times. They decided to show the world the best they had, knowing that for many it’d mean nothing but that perhaps, for some it’d mean everything. That bravery inspires me every time I feel small.
It’s this exchange what makes me feel connected to humanity. Is this exchange what makes me feel calm, as I discover that what I experience is never original. Is this exchange what brings me hope, because it makes me remember our value. Human talent inspires me not only to cultivate my own but to respect people as they are: children of awe and curiosity, always ready to find what in this world it’s worth of our devotion. I guess that’s what God does to people. That’s what it does to me.