“Imagination is the only weapon in the war against reality” – Lewis Carroll
There are many things we forget. Secretly, or rather not so secretly, I’ve always wanted my life to be like a fairy tale, and was raised on a steady diet of Disney princesses and classic bedtime stories from Narnia to Hey Diddle Diddle. I used to dress up and enact Beauty and the Beast with Belle, I know all of the words to Robin Hood, and when I was 14, I fell in love with Romeo and Juliet and had to recite Juliet’s balcony scene in front of my entire English class. How wonderful it could be to meet all these creatures and never get hurt. And then Google introduced me to the Grimms brothers and Hans Christian Anderson. The real versions. Spoiler alert: The little mermaid dies, the Pied Piper kills children, and sleeping beauty was raped.
Last March, S.M. and I went to Ireland for spring break, and it happened to be their 100 year anniversary of independence from the British. Flags flew as we got swept away by Irish nationalism. The rolling hills and stone fences are just the prequel to what lies behind the enchanted national parks of the Emerald Isle. I jumped into a freezing waterfall and she laughed at my insanity. We strolled the streets of Dublin listening for different languages, and spent our time analyzing Gaelic signs. I had wanted to do the Literary Pub Crawl, but people 40+ in age beat me to it, and sold out the only evening we could go. Instead we went to the Leprechaun Museum…twice. Once in daylight, the other at night. There we learned the dark secrets behind Irish folk lore, the truth behind faeries, and the tantalizing world of life in Medieval Europe.
That was when I connected fiction to nonfiction, history to philosophy, and human nature to human imaginings.
And then I realized my life is like a fairy tale. I get to travel to places unknown to me both alone and with my partner in crime, meet a variety of unexpected characters, get into messes, and stumble out of them. Trolls defending their bridges are nothing compared to sleeping giants. I can romanticize my life just like Disney, but I can also look at the Grimm version. Bad things happen to good people, I get scared of my own shadow, and people closest to me turn out to be goblins in disguise. Backstabbing and treacherous behavior exist unfortunately, and it causes black skies coated in ash and trembling sooty faces. Friends die in car accidents, relationships get destroyed in 30 seconds after 94,608,000 seconds of being built, and people don’t keep their promises. I may not have found Prince Charming, but I certainly haven’t died of unrequited love. However in between both extremes, I have met the Peter Pans, Rumpelstiltskins, talking trees, and fearful lions, just not in ways I would have guessed. Sometimes I find that reality is like the mask of these individuals. A talking tree won’t look like a talking tree, he or she will undoubtedly be a person, but nonetheless they’re still a talking tree. You just have to see them for what they are. All people are people, but no one is the same. Or perhaps I’m just had as a matter.