Seven stories that are worthy of your addiction

Addiction
noun
: a kind of coping mechanism
: a subconscious way of filling a space or hollow in one’s life or heart
: an unusually strong desire or fancy for something

Have you ever been addicted to something? Ever since I have observed how bad my addiction to something can get, I make sure to be careful with what I allow myself to be addicted to. And here’s what I learned – I can take advantage of it.

I’m not talking about vices or anything of the sort. Years ago, an asianovela craze started in the Philippines when The Meteor Garden hit the television. People, young and old, endlessly talked about it, and I would buy posters of F4 from stores. My sisters and cousins told me I looked like Sanchai, so I started growing my hair down my butt and hunted for a black hair band in the malls so I could wear it on my wrist.

I never missed an episode of The Meteor Garden, and my heart would inflate with joy at the first few notes of Qing Fei De Yi. I also watched and listened to F4’s albums for times beyond count that I had memorized their songs’ lyrics even though I couldn’t understand them. My mind was wrapped around images of The Meteor Garden, as if the dome and walls of my head had posters of Dao Ming Si, Hua Zi Lei, Xi Men, and Mei Zuo. I think I never got over it; I just outgrew it after doing three or four all-nighters of watching all episodes with my cousins and sisters. Today, I cringe at its imperfections and I can’t believe I ever became crazy about it.

After a few years, I didn’t expect I’d be addicted to Korean’s Full House and What’s Up Fox. I admired Song Hye-Kyo’s beauty, and I didn’t expect to have a crush on Chun Jung-Myung. Both of them were very charming. At this point, I was slowly becoming aware of how die-hard I could get when addicted to something, so after researching the characters, I let it rest, breathed in and out, and let it go. My strong thoughts and opinions about them didn’t escape my diary, though.

I didn’t think being a fan of asianovelas was a bad thing, but since I felt like I was spending too much energy on something potentially unproductive, I promised myself to choose well my fancies. I thought it was actually a good thing – an advantage, perhaps – that I could allot such amount of dedication to anything I’m wildly interested and curious about.

Today, I can say that I’ve successfully channeled this energy to more helpful and productive things, such that are useful for my teaching and writing career. Every time I read an author with a captivating writing style, I devour more than one of his works and research him until I get familiar with his cadence – Frank McCourt, Fr. Thomas Green, Elizabeth Gilbert, Cheryl Strayed, William Zinsser, Jon Krakauer, Austin Kleon, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Ayn Rand, and more. They are stupendous. But I find that best of them all is J.R.R. Tolkien.

Aside from reading The Hobbit and all three books of The Lord of the Rings, I’ve watched countless times – and I am proud to recommend – the following movies:

  1. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
  2. The Hobbit and the Desolation of Smaug
  3. The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
  4. The Fellowship of the Ring
  5. The Two Towers
  6. The Return of the King
  7. Tolkien

The stories are astounding and well-executed in the movies through sound, ambiance, dialogues, and actors. They brought me deep comfort at the outset of pandemic, and they do until now. Hence, yes, I’ve found time to watch these seven two- to three-hour movies for more than my fingers and toes can count. In fact, I’ve already memorized more lines than I expect and how each scene looks. Often, I paint with the movie as my background music and mouth the dialogues as I hear them spoken. I’ve reflected on the plots and what they mean to Tolkien and to me and to life.

I love how clever, brave, and “young” Bilbo Baggins is. I admire Gandalf even though he has occasionally misjudged things and nudged good characters into a perilous journey. I feel safe whenever the smooth, skilled, and pretty woodland elf Legolas appears on screen because I just know he isn’t going to die. I find Thorin Oakenshield effortlessly elegant and kingly however grubby he gets in battles.

Tolkien’s works are inimitable and their meaning is so deep, big, and alive that I feel I still haven’t fully grasped it even after immersing myself in the stories many times. I realized that the more I appreciate and feel the effects of great written works, the more encouraged I am to produce my own. And I hope that after poring over them for a good 10,000 hours, I will somehow be influenced by their writing style.

So, what’s your addiction? How much time do you spend on it?

Choose it well and take advantage of it.

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