Saturday, December 10, 2005

The boy inside the man

I read this essay in my local paper - no, I can't vouch for how long the link is up - and it really struck a nerve.

It's about a man who reads a fantasy story to his little girl and then worries that her "real world" won't be nearly as impressive as her fantasy one.

My psychologist told me once that I understand the difference between fantasy and reality - which makes me sane - but that I prefer fantasy.

And I suppose it's true.

I mean, I'm an adult. And if I wasn't bar mitzvah'ed into becoming a man, I suppose I became a man a few years later, with some bad sex in a dark basement. I have a job, a house, a car. And believe me, if you're an adult, you know it every time you open the mailbox to face another bill.

Can you see why this world is drudgery? I get up, I get dressed, I brush my teeth and take some pills, I drive to work. I work all night. I drive home. I eat something, watch TV, shower, and go to sleep. Repeat. Day after day. After day. After day.

And yet, I can see the wonders of the world - sometimes I have to really try, but I can. I can take a certain joy in little things, and not just an extra wing from Hooter's or whatever, but simple joys. Snow falling. A sunny day. A pretty girl. A fancy car. Getting something accomplished. Most recently, hand-cutting a key to open a pin tumbler lock. My thumb has finally stopped hurting, three days later, but damn it, the lock opened! Yay!

But I do wonder what is so wrong with at least appreciating fantasy. I think of stories every night when I lie in bed, I dream every night when I'm asleep. I can still stare at the dinosaur skeletons and dioramas at the Museum of Natural History with a child's wonder. I can still stand in the Lego store at the Bridgewater Mall and stare. And think about my checking account balance, depressingly.

I've been to enough movie cons that I've seen old "Star Wars" toys for sale at extravagant prices. And once, I found myself thinking about how much money I could have made if only I'd kept all my toys in the boxes ("Mint In Box").

What a lousy childhood I'd have had. Those toys were my world - those "Star Wars" toys and G.I. Joes became a universe of joy. Hours upon hours. I make a good hourly wage, and I don't think the price I'd get for those mint toys would fit the bill.

But the thing is, those are some of the happiest memories of my life. The day I plowed Darth Vader's star destroyer into the Death Star a la "Return of the Jedi"... well, somewhere there's probably a toy merchant weeping at the thought.

Screw him.

That was an epic adventure to end all epic adventures.

I don't want to give that up. I want to loose my imagination, not lose it. That's why I write, that's why I watch escapist movies and read escapist books.

Because my psychologist is right. I do prefer fantasy. There's nothing wrong with the real world, but it's limited. It's limited by so many practical things.

My mind is unlimited. I love that. I love to dream, even when I'm awake.

"Star Wars" toys
G.I. Joe toys
And a random essay on fantasy vs. reality that doesn't quite apply

This weekend, I go Christmas shopping. If I don't come back, call my folks.

1 Comment:

Stewie said...

I so live in a fantasy world.

Much, much better than reality.