Back to Narnia

I had an in-depth conversation this weekend with a good friend of mine and fellow author, James Peercy.  He’s an author of fantasy (https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/7540755-james-peercy), and although I have not ventured into the realm of fantasy writing (yet), it’s one of my favorite genres.  I, of course, love Harry Potter (as expressed in previous blog posts such as https://jackiesmith114.wordpress.com/2014/01/24/i-believe-in-dragons/).  I’m also a fan of Tolkien’s world and although I haven’t read the books, I’m really enjoying my journey into Westernos in Game of Thrones.  My favorite fictional land, however, to this day remains CS Lewis’ magical Narnia, Aslan’s Country.

I think there comes a time in all of our lives that we need a Narnia: a land of magic, a land of redemption, a land of beauty.  In it’s golden age, Narnia is a land untouched by greed or a thirst for power.  Its inhabitants live and coexist peacefully with love and respect for one another.  Narnia is, I believe, as close to my idea of Heaven as anything I’ll ever see on this Earth.  Except, perhaps, the Isle of Iona, but that’s another blog post.

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This weekend, I decided to revisit Narnia in the form of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader movie.  As I was watching, not only was my love and adoration for Ben Barnes renewed, but I found myself thinking back to the conversation I’d had with James.  We’d spoken of all the things in life that cannot be explained, all the mysteries that remain unsolved, and all the wonders that have yet to be made known.  I thought, “How fortunate the Pevensie children were to discover a place like Narnia!  What I wouldn’t give!”

But then I remembered something else.  The Pevensie children didn’t really discover Narnia.  CS Lewis created it and gave it as a gift to the world so that we all might discover.  This amazing, wonderful, magical land is a product of one man’s creative mind, and in that moment, I realized how extraordinary that really is.  So many wonders of the world are God-given, it’s true, but just think of all the amazing things man has done in his short time here.  We’ve walked on the moon.  We’ve crossed oceans.  We’ve discovered the gift of flight.  The truth is there are very few, if any, things that we are not capable of.  That’s a terrifying thought, but it’s also, I think, a very profound thought. If we put even a little bit of thought into it, we could do amazing things, not only for ourselves, but for our planet and for all who inhabit it.  Instead of wasting energy fighting or obsessing over petty things that really won’t matter in the end, why not focus on the good?  On making the world a better place for future generations?

The human mind and the human spirit are incredible.  We were, after all, created in the image of God.  I think that means a whole lot more than we were created to look like Him.  We are capable of so much more than we’ve resigned ourselves to believe.  We were designed to do good, to make differences, to create worlds.  Maybe 2015 will be the year that we begin to acknowledge it.

Something Meaningful

I am not a morning person.  In fact, if you even look me in the eye before 11 AM, I will probably want to punch you in the face.  I won’t, because I don’t want to get arrested, but I will want to.  

Honestly, I feel sorry for anyone who has to be around me in the mornings, because I am so utterly unpleasant.  I’m fully aware of my lousy attitude, but I usually don’t care enough to do anything about it.  So, I go about my business with a permanent Stink Eye look plastered on my face and only talk to people if they address me first.  

Now once in a while, I will actually put this state of incessant pre-noon brooding to good use and think up a new blog post or something great that I want to write in a story.  Today, however, all I could do was how little good I actually do with my life.  

People who know me might be surprised to hear me say that, because to them, I’m such a goody-two-shoes, and on paper, yeah, I guess I do qualify as the proverbial Good Girl.  I’ve never been in any serious trouble.  I made mostly straight-As.  Graduated high school 3rd in my class and spent the next six years earning my BA and my MA.  I don’t drink.  I don’t smoke.  I don’t like to party.  I’m responsible (although I hate admitting it), and for the most part, I always do what I’m told.  There’s no getting around it.  I am a Good Girl.

Here’s the problem with being a Good Girl though.  It doesn’t matter.  Yeah, all that is great for me and it’s really great for my parents, but what have I done in the past few months that has actually helped someone?  Being well-behaved and making good grades is great and encouraged, but what good am I actually doing the world by existing in this narrow little world of impeccable self-control and obedience?  

I’ve decided that one of my new goals for 2014 needs to be:  Start doing more good.   

I have done good in my life, but not for a while.  I’ve volunteered time, I’ve given blood, I’ve donated to charity, but I feel like ever since I started working, my life has revolved around the sole purpose of making money, and that is simply no longer enough.  

Money is awful, isn’t it?  I mean, when we’re kids, we’re told that life is this beautiful and amazing thing full of wondrous creatures and new experiences and exciting adventures.  We can be anything we want to be.  We’re taught about the magic of science and heroic events of history and all the extraordinary things that human beings have done before us.  I’m not sure where in the great timeline of our lives that that message changes, but as we get older, it gradually evolves from, “Wonder, awe, and opportunity,” to “Do whatever you have to to make money.”

 I know, I know, I sound like a total romantic (not in the Lovey-Dovey sense, but in the Looking-at-Life-Through-Rose-Colored-Lenses sense).  I have a terrible habit of projecting how I think life should be onto reality and I know that at least some level of acceptance is important or else I simply will not survive in this world.  

I’m not even sure how my thought process led me from “Do more good deeds” to “I hate that I have to have money to exist,” but there it is.  I’ll try to stick to the point.  

This afternoon after work, I stopped by Target.  I had a little birthday money left over, so I decided to buy the second Percy Jackson book and a hardback copy of The Fault in Our Stars.  I’ve already read it, but it was on my sister’s Kindle and I wanted my own physical copy (although as an author, I am very grateful for the eBook, as a reader, I will always prefer real books).  I reread most of it in one sitting.  

Books like that one really make me think.  I think of all the kids and adults in the world who are terminally ill or physically disabled and who would give anything for a shot at the kind of life that most of us take for granted.  I am a healthy young person, probably as healthy as a person can get minus allergies and a mild anxiety disorder.  I can do anything.  And yet, out of some strange fear, or perhaps the idea that I have to keep my life on a certain track, I don’t.  I’ve published a book, yeah, but for the most part, I’ve lived my life on the straight, narrow, and very conventional line, existing each and every day as though my time in this world is endless.    

This life is a rare and beautiful gift.  I want to write, and I will always write.  It’s my Thing.  It’s what I do because I enjoy it, not because I feel like I have to.  Even now that I’m a published author, it still doesn’t feel like a job to me, and I love that I’ve found something that I enjoy that much.  But I also want to start living life outside my safe little bubble.  

It’s not enough anymore to simply be good.  It’s time to start doing good.