Read to Avoid Despair or to Confront It

I wrote this post from a beach front hotel room in Greece. No, it wasn’t raining. Before you start to yell, let me explain. I don’t want to tell the story of the entire trip just yet, but I have to offer a few words of explanation so you don’t think I am squandering my vacation on the internet.

Alicia tripped coming out of the hotel room on the way to the archaeological site of Olympia. We spent a morning in Patras’ emergency room, and then we spent a couple of days with her leg elevated and in a cast. It turns out she just had a nasty sprain and partial ligament tear, no broken bones.

Our Patras predicament got me thinking about the mindset of despair. Perhaps our situation is not despair, but Alicia’s fall defeated our hope we would make it to Mt. Olympia and then the Achai Clauss winery. Put into perspective, we weren’t bad off. Patras’ ER facilities were incredibly efficient. Our cab drivers were accommodating in getting us back and forth from the hotel. We have a place to stay and a view of the mountains from our window.

People worry themselves into despair over much less these days, though. Instead of submitting to despair the goal is to find a way to better your situation. For example, I can find a book to read to make productive use of my time. I can also find the time to write a short post to share with people I care about.

Now, I may choose to be desperate, to read a desperate book or a story of a desperate person, but that is a choice. Right now, though, I’d much rather finish reading Swamplandia! and polish off the last of the 2012 Pulitzer contenders that I haven’t read. I am on vacation after all.

If you’re going to be desperate, be deliberately desperate. Act as if your life depends on your external circumstances and be prepared to explain why you acted that way. If you don’t feel like submitting to despair, find an entertaining book to read or a compelling story to write and refuse to submit.


Again, this is just a short note. More on the trip and my experience reading and travelling through London, Paris, Rome, Athens, and Amsterdam coming as soon as I can get it typed up. Thank you to all the great guest posts that went up in my absence. I did manage to follow them while travelling and, as usual, was very happy to see them received well by you, intelligent readers.



  1. Sue

    Hope rest of travels are less eventful. My personal experiences have been reading entertaining books in times of potential despair.

    1. Read.Learn.Write

      They were! We had a great trip. I’m glad to hear I’m not alone in using books to get through tough stuff.

  2. Mike

    When life hands you lemons…
    Hope Alicia’s leg is better.

    1. Read.Learn.Write

      Mmmm…lemonade! She is doing much better and her local doc gave her an air cast so she’s in much better shape now than the picture represents.

  3. Francine Garson

    What a great attitude! Enjoy the rest of your trip…best to Alicia!

    1. Read.Learn.Write

      Thank you!

  4. Chris

    What a great attitude! Travel is like that most times. Things come up, but it sounds like you’re managing it just fine. Hope Alicia feels better soon. Are you going to review Swamplandia! for the site?

    1. Read.Learn.Write

      Very true. Things come up in that way but we also experienced some beautiful things that we couldn’t have planned for either. That’s the fun, the unexpected stuff.

      I have been thinking about reviewing it and I may yet, but it’s still sinking in. I also have ambitions to do something with audio or video related to the three finalists using your great post as a jumping off point. I just have to find the time!

      We shall see.

  5. Anjali

    Loved the phrase “be deliberately desperate.” If you have to fall into the pit of despair go with trumpets blaring and arms swinging to the Sousa march.

    1. Read.Learn.Write

      Thanks Anjali, and yes, that’s it. Get a good head of steam up and dive right on in.

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