I am operating this today under the delightful haze that comes from a wonderfully indulgent sleepless night. Never fear mother, this involved neither drugs nor alcohol nor any other equally dangerous activity. I merely spent the evening watching the things around me dissolve into soft vapors and shadows yielding their stubborn borders to the advances of endless possibility. Yes mom, I stayed up all night reading. Again. Perhaps in a few more years I will have finally grown up enough to realize that it is ridiculous to stay up all night reading fantasy novels when you have to work the next day. But as of right now, there is little I find more wickedly pleasurable than spending an evening hole up alone in my house, nestled in my scrubbies with a cozy blanket, and sinking into fiction for 10 straight hours. Add a bit of rain and I may never resurface. So maybe I knew I would be spending the day fighting the dozes, but it was nonetheless with a self-satisfied smile that I walked into to work this morning, enjoying the lingering coolness of a solid eastern Washington rain.
I've long since given up the fight against my love affair with fantasy. Call it an immature indulgence, but my fascination with the Unseen and the Something More is as deeply rooted as my need for food. Obsessive? Perhaps, but damaging? I think not. Admittedly losing oneself in fiction too deeply or for too long is not entirely healthy. Ten hours may and has stretched into 48 hours (or more); I've consumed the entire Harry Potter series in a weekend. I could tell you more easily about the fall of Feanor and the Dagor-nuin-Giliath than the Battle of Gettysburg. Though I may have had a few mildly disturbing premonitions of a heavily be-doilyied studio apartment full of yowling felines, but it's nothing to dreadful to ignore.
The infatuation is not even confined to literature, I find myself having conversations with characters from a story rather than with actual people, imagining my own ventures into their lives and trials instead of living my own life. I am not sure whether I should be worried that more and more of my stories begin with, "I was talking to...nobody the other day and…" I fear that what was written off as harmlessly silly is now edging toward eccentric or abnormal.
I suppose such frequent departure from reality is hardly healthy. But then, the question then becomes, what is the definition of "reality?" As Morpheus was kind enough to point out, if "real" is what you can feel, smell, taste and see, then 'real' is simply electrical signals interpreted by your brain." Or a more euphonic assertion (by my reckoning), "Of course it is happening inside your head…but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?" (Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore).
Moderation aside, I've wondered if it is even acceptable to have such an affinity for these things. For that matter, fantasy could be considered drug to me for all intents and purposes. But the root of the issue is whether the desire itself is wrong. As I labored over my infatuation with things unexplainable and other-wordly and attempted unsuccessfully to drown them in scriptural truths, mercifully, I read, though not for the first time perhaps understanding for the first time:
"...we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal." 2 Cor 4:18
"These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth." Heb 11:2
It was as if the hand of God reached down to my heart, so tortured by the fear that this love for fantasy was sinful, and soothed it. This is not your home, it is right to long for your home. Are we not warned against "worldliness," and being "friends of the world" (1 Jo 2:15, Rom 12:2)? The danger comes when we do not recognize for what we are actually longing and, more importantly, where to find it.
So what, exactly, are we longing for? The simplest answer is: more. We want to believe in something beyond Here & Now, beyond what we are currently experiencing. That desire can manifest itself in a desire to "make something of yourself." Or to be a part of something greater than yourself, do good, gain knowledge, or have a family. We sense the shortness of our life and the reality of our mortality and a kind of desperation to justify our existence takes root somewhere between mind and soul. It's true that from the moment we are born we begin to die, and part of our humanity cries out for rescue and rebirth. We escape the fear in whatever way seems best.
Herein lies problem number two, we miss the mark. Most often, we aim to low. We think that "more" can only be defined within the context of the world. We aim for goals we can see, ones we can attain. Too often, "reach for the stars," really means, "reach for the Doctorate," or, "reach for the gold medal," when it should, in fact, mean, "reach for the stars!" The stars we attain are sadly anticlimactic when we hold them within our hands. Really, who would be content with a star you could hold in your hands anyway?
If we do not aim to low, we certainly aim amiss. The perpetual recycling of religion, mysticism, and piety that dominates our trends is evidence of this. The pitch is usually the same, there is something more, even better if it is shrouded in Secrecy. A special revelation or an ancient truth uncovered, these are the foundations of truly successful false religion. However, James 1:27 says,
"Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world."
Of course this is not enough to build an entire faith system upon, but the Spirit of God is there. Love and compassion coupled with holiness and separateness. God calls us, each of us, out. Certainly we are here for a purpose (to visit orphans and widows in their trouble for one thing), yet we never are truly at rest. No spirit really is.
To then, perhaps my Lord would like me to life my head up a little more often, to devote myself to knowing HIS reality in this moments as opposed to something imagined? But it does wonders to my sanity to know that the desire itself is not inherently evil and that my Lord understands how much I enjoy my fantasy. Although I may someday regret spending so much time with imagined peoples and beings but, until such a time, I'm content. Bring on the cats.