Fantasy or Reality
I was listening to NPR this morning, on my way to work. There was a This American Life story already in session, but I was hooked by Andy's experience when he was 15 years old. He, like most teenagers in high school, was living an unsatisfactory life. Not just in school but at home. His escape was reading fantasy books by Anthony Piers.
He had gone over in his mind what living with Piers would be like. Gardening with him and just being a piece in his life. One day, after withdrawing money from a savings account his mother started for him, Andy buys a plane ticket and heads for Florida. To my amazement, he's able to find Piers. I don't want to give away, you must listen to the podcast [from the 7th thru 40th minute]. There's also a copy of the transcript as well.
LISTEN TO IT... I didn't realize when I had arrived at work, but there was this odd feeling I had. Andy had a vivd illusion of what a foreign life would be like, the life of an idealized role model. Meeting Piers and seeing how he lived was the realest part of his teenage life. It's like the fantasy had disappeared and even the idealized Piers was living the same mundane life as Andy was.
I guess the delusions of grandeur were saddening to me. Of course I acknowledge that my favorite authors, musicians, and artists didn't live the romanticized lives I'd like them to have. They had struggles that helped them create. I never met Camus, Neruda, Garcia Marquez, Tolkien, Chanel, Degas, Cole Porter, or even Thom Yorke... but each have become an inspirational beacon in their fields. Thinking about the lives they lived (and in Thom's case, lives) just once again goes to show how we're all the same.
Andy, even at the mere age of 15 knew he had to make this journey in his life. He had to find Piers in order to just emotionally and mentally make it thru teenage angst. That... that courage and sense of urgency is inspiring. I need an adventure. Andy made that fantasy of meeting Piers something real, and their conversation was something helped him have a different feeling towards life. Things may not have changed, but something within Andy had changed.
We can't live in the imaginary world we have as children, but we can carry on that sense of happiness with us in order to survive life's hardships. The nostalgic experiences and idealized perceptions of our inspirational characters continue to inspire us to create and live. We use it all in order to cope.