Saturday, 14 March 2009

Fantasy or Reality? - Linda Strachan

Where is the border between the two and does it really matter?

I, too, have spent the last two weeks doing author visits, speaking to all ages from nursery children to adult learners, young offenders to primary school kids.

The nursery children have a wide-eyed wonder and are willing to believe anything. Tales of talking animals and facts about real creatures sit side by side in their minds and they appear to have no problem believing in both or at least in the possibility of both. They also seem to realise that the animals only really talk in the story and do not expect to have a conversation with a cat or dog they meet in the street.

When you ask adults to suspend their understanding of the universe they know, many are resistant to it and reject anything that suggests magic or fantasy. It is as if it should be confined to their childhood, which they have left far behind. They often seem to fear the idea of taking a step beyond their familiar reality as if it might make them appear ridiculous - a fate worse than …?

We are conditioned by our upbringing, experience and often the expectations of others around us, parents or peers, and sometimes that can be incredibly limiting.

One young primary school child told me she only likes books with no pictures, or only black and white pictures. It was immediately obvious that she thought it made her sound more grown up than her peers and perhaps, by her reckoning, cleverer. I was sad that she thought it necessary to disregard the many wonderful stories told with beautiful illustrations because she was now ‘above all that’. It was tempting to ask her about graphic novels but she would probably not have understood the term anyway.

I don’t expect everyone to love fantasy or to believe in fantastical places or creatures but if we limit our imagination to hard facts and the things we have experienced ourselves we lose the ability to dream.

Without dreams our world becomes dull and mediocre. Without our dreams we lose the ability or will to achieve great things, to invent new wonders or to go out and explore the world, or the universe.

So, have fun and let go every now and then.

Give yourself permission to let a little fantasy into your reality.

1 comment:

Nick Green said...

Well said.

Something I can't bear to hear people say is, 'I prefer to keep my feet firmly on the ground.' Usually such people are the last to acknowledge that the ground on which they stand is but a speck of dust hurtling at unimaginable speeds through an utterly baffling universe.

You need a boundless imagination merely to grasp at the real world. We need the fantasies and fairytales to practise on.