Saturday, December 23, 2023

Christmas, Imagination, and Wonder

Art by Boris Vallejo, taken from Ben Espen's blog

Merry Christmas!

I don't have much to share this weekend since it is the dead center of one of the most festive times of the year, but there are a few things I wanted to mention. The first is the above image and how it perfectly encapsulates what adventure writers are trying to do. It also shows exactly who we are and what we strive to become.

There is more to life than the hamster wheel. Don't let anyone tell you and different. The only ones who don't want the prisoners dreaming of the outside world are the prison guards, after all. That said, it isn't always escapism to dream of such things. Sometimes it is just longing for the supernatural end of the natural world we were given. It is longing for what we can already know is out there but just have little idea of how to reach with our own power. Human beings both over and underestimate ourselves to strange degrees. It is what the comedy and tragedy genres are both about, after all. Sometimes we get lost in our own ambitions or vices.

Escapism can be a bad word. When being confronted by the harsher elements of reality, one can use it to avoid their problems to a harmful degree. Think drugs, alcohol, or addictions. All of those things that can be used in healthy moderation can in turn be made a vice if put on a pedestal above other things. One can really do this with anything to the point of obscuring what is important. They might even need to outright neglect of important things, in the end.

That said, the above image by Boris Vallejo perfectly encapsulates the importance of both imagination and the core mission of writers such as myself. It is to remind readers that there is more to life than this. there is more than you see on a daily basis. That is not to say there is nothing valuable in everyday life and that it all must be escaped, but to show that you as an individual are a valuable thread in the tapestry of our society and that it all connects together as one whole in ways we can't even imagine. Everything matters, and there is more to it than what you can see. Though you might think your everyday slog is worthless and a waste of time, it is not and neither are you. And just like the above barbarian, you are also secretly a strong warrior capable of much more than you or others think. It's not so much escapism, but a reminder of who you really are.

Wonder stories exist to present this key truth in the mystery of existence in ways the audience might not expect. Though we might not always see it, and those leaders in charge might forget it themselves, you do matter and you have much to offer. The job of writers is to show that there is meaning in everything, even what might seem mundane is secretly much more than that. The land of the faerie exists around every corner, behind every tree, and down every strange alley, just out of sight. Wonder tales are reminders of greater things that await in the smallest things.

Christmas does this, too. In a manger in some lowly country off in the middle of nowhere, covered in dirt and surrounded by animals, there is a Baby most would never even know was there, and that Baby is the Greatest of us all. Where you least expect it is the most valuable discovery you will ever find. This is true wonder.

So this holiday season, please remember that one truth, no matter who you are and no matter where you are in your life. We may think that we're alone or that we're fighting an endless battle, but we're really not. In fact, we've already won the most important one, and we didn't even have to do anything. In comparison, our everyday squabbles and troubles, regardless of how big they might seem to us right now, aren't quite so bad. This will all eventually pass. Besides, we're fierce warriors, aren't we? We're capable of so much more than we believe we are.

Let us, hopefully, never forget that.

Have yourself a Merry Christmas, and I will see you very soon.

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