My thoughts on everything from albacore tuna to zebras
| Yesterday, my wife and I went to see The Chronicles of Narnia. It is an excellent film by the way, whether you are a fan of C. S Lewis’s Narnia stories or not. I highly recommend it. But then, I like any movie that triumphs good over evil, fantasy or not.
I had read the Narnia books back somewhere in my early to late teens, a time in my life when I read lots of Fantasy and Sci-Fi. I still do occasionally read some fantasy, but now a days my reading is directed more toward the historical novel genre or just plain history in general. At 49, have I lost that part of me that was so easily transported to places like Narnia and Middle Earth through the well-written word? I don’t think so. I just don’t allow it to surface as much as I did back then and I just don’t seem to need it as much either.
Imagine my surprise, when I found myself emotionally wrapped up in the movie yesterday, wrapped up to the point where my eyes were watery and there was a lump in my throat. Why was that? What caused me to react that way? I knew the story. I knew how it turned out. Was it simply because of a well-written story and a well-acted movie?
Being a student of history, I thought back to those years when I read every fantasy book I could get my hands on. They were not happy years. They were years of internal struggle trying to define who I was. They were years of un-acceptance on many levels of society. They were years of anger and frustration. Most importantly they were years of simply not accepting myself, or even liking myself. Does this sound familiar for a teenager?
There was, however, one place, or rather many places I could go where I was accepted, where I was whatever I chose to be. That place was within the well-worn pages of whatever fantasy novel I happened to be reading at the time. I merely had to pick up a book, open it up, and I was instantly transported to a time and a place far from the anxieties of teenage life. Whether it was a different planet or a far away land, for a time, sometimes brief, I was there, taking my heroic stand against the evil that threatened it.
I submit to you that on some level, fantasy, and maybe just reading in general, saved my life. Corny? Yes, maybe, But then again, I look around me at the teenagers today, knowing I was not unlike them. There were many directions my anxiety, my frustrations and my anger could have sent me. I had access to weapons and the skill to use them, though I cannot remember ever having thoughts of killing anyone. I did have thoughts of suicide and I flirted on the edges with alcohol and drugs.
Looking back on it now I believe one of the reasons I didn’t follow any of those paths was because I had a release valve. Nestled securely in my room, I picked up a book, and within a few moments I was whisked away to lands never seen before, to times no one even knew existed.
Make no mistake, I’m not saying I owe my present day existence to the land of Narnia or even Middle Earth, but in some respects I do owe these places, these writers something, if nothing more than my gratitude and my respect for helping me through a trying time in my life… and for still being there these many years after and allowing me to visit.
It was snowing when we left the movie yesterday. A fitting end to the movie. I closed my eyes and with a fair dusting of pixie dust and a tear in my eye...I believed.