March 26, 2013

What is Real?

When we talk about reality, we are usually referring to the three-dimensional physical world that we live in. Anything not a part of that world is declared to be not real, or in other words, fiction. People who like to think they live out their lives only in the “real world” tend to dismiss fiction as being for children and dreamers. I’ve even heard it said that fiction is for people who can’t handle reality.

I submit that reality is for people who can’t handle fiction. An adult who enjoys reading fiction is someone who hasn’t lost their imagination. Too often we see children playing in rich imaginary worlds, and we tell them to grow up. This teaches them to be ashamed of having an imagination, and that imaginary things are only for children.

Adults who are able to hold on to their imagination are people who enjoy reading fiction. For them, the words on the page paint pictures in their mind, and the characters live out their lives in beautiful color. They see the events in the book as though they were watching a movie.

Still, even many adults who enjoy reading fiction have only managed to retain a part of their imagination. I make this statement based on the sheer number of them who ask me where I get my ideas from. Many of them don’t believe me when I tell them I just make stuff up out of my imagination. They persist in wanting to know where my ideas come from.

Where my ideas come from is a story for a different post.

The point here is that the imaginary worlds in books and movies are no less real in the minds of the consumers, the people who read the books and watch the movies. They’re also real in the minds of the writers who make them. It’s less a matter of not knowing the difference between fact and fiction, but more an acknowledgement that reality is comprised of both fact and fiction, and that there’s room enough for writers and readers to enjoy more than one kind of reality.