Posted by: jt | October 6, 2008

magical realism

This blog is, naturally, a bit of a glimpse inside my head, though it’s certainly easier for me to share my political soapboxes than my emotional ones.  I’ve written a little bit about how I see the world (e.g. what happens in the meadow at dusk or oh, what a musical morning), but I’ve never quite articulated the results of what I think is a combination of rampant idealism and mild case of ADD.

I’m not interested in what is; I’m interested in what could be. I don’t want reality; I want possibility. To quote the lovely Tennessee Williams:

I don’t want realism. I want magic! Yes, yes, magic! I try to give that to people. I do misrepresent things. I don’t tell truths. I tell what ought to be truth.

I don’t know that it’s necessarily good news about your psyche when you’re quoting Blanche DuBois from A Streetcar Named Desire but, regardless, I agree. And, like Blanche, I do occasionally feel like I’m fighting off the men in the white coats (though, happily, that’s still in the realm of possibility rather than reality).

A few years ago, I struggled to give voice to my literary aesthetic – Kafka, Kundera, Rushdie, Bulgakov, Welsh, Ferguson – and my English major friend looked at me blankly and said, “You like magical realism.” While most people relegate it to entertainment (think of films like Amélie, Chocolat or anything by Tim Burton), this is my daily version of reality – it’s the reality I choose.  Unfortunately, magical realism just isn’t welcome in day-to-day existence.

Which is why I spend a lot of time in my head.

I grew away from religion several years ago and, despite an occasional yearning for atheism (it would be easier), I have an innate belief in the spiritual. I can’t shake my perception of something greater than this world. Events, circumstances and individuals just fit together far too exquisitely for everything to be a happy accident. I don’t need to assign terms, make rules, or name names; I just believe. Call this god, the cosmos, magic, destiny, whatever you name it, I see something – something – pushing, pulling and nudging us through.

While I revel in the magic that swirls around me – in the crispness of fall air, in the wind on my face, in animated conversations, in all things – it doesn’t mean that I don’t see reality. Not only does life impose offensive deadlines, arbitrary rules and mundane expectations that make such bliss impossible, but I was raised, almost brutally, to confront reality.

My whimsical childhood fantasies were repeatedly quashed, with only the best of intentions, by a family rooted firmly in the rules of this world. At an early age, I learned that music was to be played strictly as written, stories were read off a page – not made up, and Santa’s reindeer were never to be colored green (because deer that can fly are still restricted chromatically?). My household was dominated by linear progressions and logical arguments. Sensibility and reason ruled.

While I fully agree that these are useful tools to have, I need more. I see more. I have more.

A couple of weeks ago I accepted an offer for a job in Seattle. The situation is so perfect that it almost doesn’t seem real. Everything for this opportunity aligned in such seamless ways to match my interests and desires – professionally, personally, emotionally. I can say, without the smallest twinge of melodrama that this is the universe telling me where I’m supposed to be. This isn’t just a job; it isn’t just an opportunity – there’s something much deeper here.

This is right. This is whole. This is true.

And this was the source of tremendous frustration with my mother.  I called her to share in my excitement and bouncy joy that this is real, this is happening and it’s so amazingly perfect! And she immediately launched into practicalities. And I insisted that, yes, there was a time for that but right now we’re happy and excited and blown away by how perfect this is! And she dragged it back into minutiae. And I rallied again. And she droned on. And I got pissed.

It kills me a little that she won’t see my world. I see hers. I know hers. The Real World of Adulthood is this oppressive necessity that we’re all forced to function in, I know.  My reality is this quirky, colorful, sound-tracked place where nothing is quite what it seems and there’s always more wonder beneath the surface. There’s always another prism, another angle, to view how mysteriously and perfectly things just fit together and, perhaps the coolest part is that there’s always more. The deeper you look, the more you find – it’s an endless exploration of possibility. That is the world I live in – where magic isn’t just possible, it’s real.

I know it isn’t for everyone, but it is for me. And, true to my reality, I can’t give up on the possibility that she might understand that some day.

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Responses

  1. Who knew that Tennessee Williams wrote all those email forwards about Hillary Clinton killing Vince Foster? Huh.

  2. “offensive deadlines”

    Heh.

  3. Happily, I seem to have missed all of Williams’ anti-Hillary emails. ;-)

    And seriously, is anything more offensive than deadlines? Bleh.

    *happiest when anything is still possible*


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