“Only the most mature of us are able to be childlike. And to be able to be childlike involves memory; we must never forget any part of ourselves. […] For growing up never ends; we never get there. I am still in the process of growing up, but I will make no progress if I lose any of myself on the way.” Madeleine L’Engle Walking on Water
Do you remember the optimism of childhood? The anticipation you felt when a friend asked, “what do you want to be when you grow up?” Or how overwhelming it seemed to pick only one occupation? Even as a high school senior you probably thrilled at the prospects before you. Different possibilities glimmered with hope, with opportunity, with the promise of fulfillment.
Then adulthood slapped you across the face and woke you from the your childhood delusions, right? Yeah, me too. Responsibilities, bills, family pain—even the ‘good’ stuff—can weigh us down and steal our joy.
The loud shouts of reality easily drown the whispered dreams of childhood.
This paradigm shift is what draws me to the genre of Fantasy. Those quiet voices speak a little louder, reminding me that life is bigger than my Universe of One (okay—Six—the other five voices in the house get pretty loud at times). Fantasy exposes all the cares of this world for what they are: dragons to be slew, princesses to be rescued, and kingdoms worth defending.
Escapism, you say? Not at all. Though reality is harsh, it is not what defines me. Oh, it may give me temporary amnesia, but a beautifully told tale of lions and tigers and bears is sure to improve my memory.
My family recently went to see the movie Joy. This true story recounts the life of Joy Mangano, a single mom who lived with a severely dysfunctional family. She busted her butt to pay the mortgage while everything around her spiraled out of control.
As a child, Joy dreamed of being an inventor. Dreamed of making things that people couldn’t live without. But reality crammed itself down her throat and left her choking on the urgency of the immediate. At the crisis point in the movie, Joy Mangano remembers. She remembers who she was a child. Remembers who she really is, deep down. This spark of remembering reignites her dreams, fans the flames of her imagination, and changes the course of her life.
Personally, I need that reminder. What Madeleine L’Engle states in the above quote is profoundly true: “only the most mature of us are able to be childlike.” Losing ourselves in the undertow of life is a grievous loss indeed. One worth swimming against, even when the storms are brutal.
As a young mother I began to read THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA to my children. I learned that these stories were not merely for children. They were for a disorganized, weary, and sleep-deprived mothers. They were for me.
In Lewis’ world of Narnia I was able to recognize many of my own struggles. From wonder to betrayal to redemption, the tales reflected reality on a grander scale. Gave me fresh eyes to consider the challenges I faced while stirring the embers of dwindling dreams. There was something about getting pulled into a magical land where the laws of nature were suspended or changed which stirred my imagination for what I encountered in my own world.
Fantasy births possibility. Births creative solutions. Makes one aware of the overall story, and that we each play an important part. No character is too small to make a difference (think Reepicheep!). My children needed to know that, and I needed to be reminded of it. Thanks to Narnia, and a few other series like The Underland Chronicles by Suzanne Collins, I remembered the part of myself that loved to write.
Many years later, I’m “still in the process of growing up” by getting lost in a great fantasy tale. More and more it’s becoming obvious that this is a Good vs Evil world in which we live. We should all start taking notes from the dragon slayers in books so we can recognize the dragons that life sends after us—and know that they can be conquered! After all, when you were a kid, did you pretend to be an accountant that struggled to balance the books? Or, did you imagine yourself as a knight in shining armor ready to rescue the beautiful princess?
What did you imagine you’d be when you grew up? Let us know in the comments. Heather will be giving away a copy of her new release, THE TETHERED WORLD to one commenter.
About Heather L.L. FitzGerald
Heather L.L. FitzGerald lives in Texas with four someone’s that call her mom and one special someone that calls her his wife. Her YA Fantasy The Tethered World releases February 1st on Amazon and other online retailers. Heather is a member of the North Texas Christian Writers, and helps to facilitate the Manet writer’s group. She loves drinking ice lattes, cloud watching, and getting lost in a good book.
About THE TETHERED WORLD
“Normal” means different things to different people. For sixteen-year-old Sadie Larcen, family dynamics look a little different than most. Parents with oddball occupations? Normal. Five homeschooled siblings—one with autism? Normal.
Police knocking on the door and parents gone missing? Definitely not normal!
When Sadie uncovers the reasons behind her parents’ disappearance and the truth about her heritage, she despairs of ever feeling normal again. Especially when she learns that her mother’s interest in Bigfoot, Dwarves, and other lore extends beyond her popular blog. Sadie’s family has been entrusted with keeping the secrets of the Tethered World—home to creatures that once roamed the Garden of Eden.
Sadie and her siblings must venture into this land to rescue their parents. Stepping out of reality and into a world she never knew existed is a journey Sadie fears and resents. But she chooses to risk all to save her family.
She’s just not sure she will survive in the process.