A few days ago, a Facebook friend sent me this picture and said, “I suspect this would be you if it weren’t for your blog…” I love this picture because it is so very much true of me. Thoughts fill my head but they rarely get said. (Did you notice that the last sentence rhymes?) Except in writing. I can hold back spoken words better than I can hold back written ones. And the more difficult life becomes, the more the words flow. It’s like a dam: sunny days or light rain does not affect a dam, but heavy rains and flooding increases the pressure on it until flood gates must be opened to release the pressure so the dam doesn’t crack and destroy picturesque villages in the path of destruction.
EJ, JJ, and I love to tell stories. It must be the Irish-Norwegian ancestry in us. We weave fantastical stories out of common place items and events. Sometimes one begins the story and others add to it.
I have fun, for example, when EJ or JJ asks me a question that there is no way I would know the answer to–such as “What is that man doing?” or “Why is his car dented?” as we drive through the countryside. I’ve never seen the person before and never will again–how am I supposed to know what or why? So I make up a story about it: “That man is Fred’s cousin’s wife’s brother’s son. His car is dented because last night he accidentally ran over Big Foot…” is much more interesting than “How am I supposed to know?” I bought a goblet years ago to use whenever JJ got sick, and I’d laugh evilly whenever I handed him the goblet of bubbling Theraflu or Airborne. After he drank it, I always dramatically quoted a line from The Emperor’s New Groove: “A Llama???? You’re supposed to be dead!” Last week, when we were sitting alone in the doctor’s office, JJ showed me some greenish-yellow bruising on his arm. I really think it was bruising caused by the IV or blood test needles, and I did ask the doctor to confirm that later. However, when JJ showed it to me, I examined it intensely and then whispered dramatically, “Oh, no! JJ, I really think you might be turning into a zombie!” It’s much more interesting to consider that he might be turning into a zombie than that his arm is merely bruised.
We have an interesting inner life, and are rarely bored. But outside we look normal, like superheroes in disguise. At least, I think we look normal?
I can so totally relate to Anne Shirley’s imagination in the book, Anne of Green Gables, and to Rick Castle’s love of weaving stories on the TV program, Castle. They are kindred spirits.
Oh, this topic brings up a memory of when JJ was little. We were reading about medieval times and I got him a knight’s costume–armor, helmet, and sword. I, as the Queen Mother, ceremoniously touched him with a sword and declared him a knight of the realm. He wore his knight’s costume all that day as we did various tasks around town, courageously and nobly protecting me from all harm. He gallantly stopped me at intersections to rescue me from threatening cars. It was so precious.
I think I could maybe be a writer of books, except for one thing. At night I can’t sleep if my thoughts are running around in my head, so long ago I began to imagine stories to turn down the other thoughts and help me sleep. I have never really gotten past the backstory of my story–the reason why the characters act the way they do. One reason is that I fall asleep. But another reason is that while I can understand why the heroes of the story fight heroically, I cannot comprehend why the evil villains want to do evil. I just can’t understand the delight in oppressing people. I can understand that evil dictators or sorcerers want more power or more land or more gold, and I understand that they hate the innocents and the heroes, but where do they think their evil is going to lead? I mean, did Genghis Khan or Hitler ever think through “What next?” If they had conquered the whole world, killed all their enemies, stolen all the land and gold…then what? What would Sauron, or Narnia’s white witch, or all the other evil witches and sorcerers have done if they had succeeded in plunging the world into darkness or turning all the heroes into stone? So the victorious evil ones possess all the treasure and control all the land. Everyone is afraid of them or turned into stone. What do they do next? I think they must respond as it is said that Alexander the Great did: “When Alexander saw the breadth of his domain, he wept for there were no more worlds to conquer.”
Except I just can’t imagine Sauron weeping that there are no more worlds to conquer. I think evil villains must not think very far ahead. Despite their evil, they are simplistic. They think only of possessing, not what will happen after they have possessed.
Good must ultimately be victorious because it unites and builds and heals and restores, making people stronger. Evil makes no sense, it divides and destroys the very things that would make it strong, and I believe it always must eventually collapse. I mean, no matter how much an evil overlord oppresses people, sooner or later heroes will arise to fight back. Or the son of the evil one becomes weak, hedonistic, and/or insane and loses the kingdom–like some of Caesars of Ancient Rome.
I believe that there are certain stories that become beloved classics because they contained echoes of the True Story. We love stories of the battle between good and evil, light and darkness, princes and princesses, heroes and heroines, redemption and romance, fighting dragons and monsters, challenging quests and journeys…because they echo the Very Real Story that an evil dragon has plunged the world into darkness, turning people into stone, but that a courageous prince has gone on a noble quest to slay him and rescue us, the princesses in the tower. Now we only wait for the prince to return to carry us off into the sunrise. (Not sunset. It will be a beginning, not an ending of the story.) The Bible is NOT a fairy tale, but we love stories and fairy tales because they contain elements that echo the truth. Stories and fairy tales are parables.
Years ago, EJ, JJ, and I went on vacation in Pennsylvania. We stayed at a beautiful bed and breakfast. Another family was also staying at the bed and breakfast that week. We liked each other and ended up going out to eat together at a restaurant. We talked about various things, and one thing led to another, and I ended up telling the other woman about my weird theory that I think we love stories and fairy tales because they have echoes of truth. The woman began to cry a bit. She said that as a child she used to love fairy tales, but then life was hard, and she learned that there are no princes, no happy endings. She decided that she’d never tell her kids fairy tales. However, I had just opened her eyes to the fact that even though evil often seems to win, someday the King will return, save us from the dragon, and we will all have a happy ending. The fairy tales are, in some ways, true.
Ok, I can’t resist sharing this favorite clip from the movie, Galaxy Quest. I love this movie. It both pokes fun at and honors Sci-Fi stories like Star Trek.
Anyway, just so you know, the battle my family is fighting against cancer is not merely about hospital visits and cancer treatments. No. We are fighting a monster that is trying to eat our son. A Fellowship is forming to accompany him, made up of us, his parents, and you his friends, as well as the King. This is an epic story.
Somehow, it feels more powerful to imagine ourselves as valiant warriors fighting monsters with the King than a vulnerable family fighting a disease.
I’m so pleased these thoughts slipped out of your mind so others should find them. I’ve just read Tolkein’s “On Fairy Stories” which contains real gems. Life has so many unhelpful things to get attached to. Faerie reminds us there are higher things. So, out with your weapons and give those monsters a good thrashing. May your son be victorious!
(PS I love Galaxy Quest too… and the Princess Bride)
Thank you, Nebul! Nice to meet a fellow fairy-tale traveler!