Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Dichotomy of Stories and Reality

I live a thousand lives tonight
Locked up inside my head
I chose the song of eternity
It ravaged inside my head
I live a thousand lives tonight
All faces black and red
I chose the people who never lived
I cried, and stayed in bed.
You're probably tired about hearing about stories from me.  It seems that's most of what I talk about.  I'm not here to apologize though.  However, today I am going to delve into something that may explain why I talk about stories so much, why they affect me, why I love them.

So here goes.  Baring a little bit of my soul here.  This idea that I'm going to share today is something I've cried over and thought through.  It's very personal to me, but it may be also something for some of you, particularly those who have ever thought that escaping in a story was the only thing that kept them sane.

"in dreams we enter a world that is entirely our own"

I finished reading the Harry Potter series last weekend.  It affected me quite deeply with the adventure, love, and loyalty of the characters; how they sacrificed for each other and the  courageous choices they made in spite of death staring them down. The themes, especially those of death and life, courage and friendship, hit me hard. (I may write a full review and post it here. We'll see.)

It had been rather a rough day at home, the day after I finished reading.  There were things heavy on my heart, real life struggles that hurt and drove me to my room alone.  In that moment, I wanted escape more than anything.  Harry Potter had affected me.  Even though the story had been filled with darkness, with danger- even with death, something in me longed for it above my real life. Harry said "Hogwarts is my home."  And in my longing for my own world to be made right- I wanted Hogwarts to be my home.  It was, despite it's darkness, a beautiful place.  It was adventure, it was escape. It was certainty that their lives meant something.  

Maybe it was certainty that my life meant something too.

All my life I've looked to stories for escape, I've been realizing.  All my life I've seen glimpses of life and love and courage in stories that have provided hope to me as I'm living the pages of my own story. Those stories have given me courage.  They've given me joy.  Most of all, they've given me hope.

"It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live."

So there's the dichotomy.  I've depended on stories, to be honest.  I've placed my heart in them, let them affect me and change me.  I don't regret what stories have done for me.

Sometimes, though, I think I dwell on stories and forget to live.  I love stories. I won't ever stop loving stories.  The story of the universe goes on- and we write and live our little stories inside of it.  I fully intend to keep reading and writing stories for the rest of my life, in expectancy that they will affect me, change me, give me hope and strength.

But even in that, I have often lacked the courage to step out of the story world and live fully in my own.  I saw a post on Tumblr that said "we need fantasy to survive because reality is too difficult."

Okay, so sometimes reality is difficult. Sometimes it is horrible. But we will never get beyond the darkness and into the light unless we step out with our swords drawn.  We will never experience life  in all it's beauty- and sorrow- unless we fling ourselves fully into it.

We will never live unless we come out of the dream world.  The dream world will live inside us forever, it will continue to make us more alive then we were.  But I realized that night that these stories matter because they echo my own heart.  My desires for my own story become entangled with the fictional story.  I want to live, to have the abundant life that I was made for.  I do not want to forget that truly living is courageous.

"The stories we love do live in us forever."

Our own stories, we hope will live forever.


  1. wow, Abby. thanks for opening yourself up and exposing all of this. This sort of thing rings true in my life as well. I too, find ways to escape from reality and get lost in another 'world'. we all do. What you wrote encourages me to live fully where I am right now no matter how much I may hate it right now.

    Keep posting like this. I love it!!

  2. No! never stop writing about stories!

    Love this post, and I can relate so much. Probably with writing more than reading--when one has total control over a world, it's awfully tempting to never leave.

    I think a lot of the best stories DO point outward, and make you want to change your own character rather than your setting (pointing to the flaws in what you can control, rather than just causing dissatisfaction because of what you can't)--but I'm not sure how much of that the author has control over, and how much depends on the reader's choices. Hmm.

    Hahaha, that Tumblr quote has irritated me every time I've seen it. I see why people think that, and it IS one reason fantasy resonates with people,'s pretty sad, if that's all there is to it.

    Thank you for your beautiful words, as always :)

  3. Love the post! I think a lot of writers feel this same thing. Thank you for being so open. :)