Tuesday, October 16, 2007


“Is this not the true romantic feeling: not to desire to escape life, but to prevent life from escaping you?”
--Thomas Wolfe

In previous posts, we discussed the idea of escapism. So many people experience stories as a mini-vacation from life. Certainly, that’s how I’ve viewed them. A voyeuristic opportunity to live as someone else for a brief span of time. Yet as I read the above quote, I could feel the molecules in my brain churning.

True romance, whether in stories or life, is all about awakening and relishing the passion within your heart. In our daily grind, we often forget this. There seems little to cherish about the usual routine—turn off the alarm, make the coffee, shower, shave, brush your teeth. *yawn*

Part of what makes stories so enthralling is that the boring bits are all cut out. Through the eyes of our heroines and heroes, we can glimpse the magic that has escaped our notice. Perhaps encouraging us to open our eyes, as well as our hearts.

Stories are the greatest high. A truly amazing tale leaves you breathless, either with tears or fits of giggles, and the characters and plot linger like the taste of chocolate on the tongue. Yum.

One of my favorite birthday treats is to slip away to a fabulous movie followed by dinner out. Few things beat the thrill of discussing a movie with my hubby over a glass of wine. Part of that is the shared experience. You can read the same book, yet the sharing is not as easy. With movies or favorite television shows, the simultaneous bark of laughter, the derisive snort, the exchange of incredulous looks, all adds to a sense of intimacy. Sharing stories heightens the feeling of camaraderie between us.

Women understand this instinctively. We share stories all the time. It’s part of the bonding process that we are most comfortable with. Which is why we can get frustrated with the Mr. Tell Me What’s Wrong And I’ll Fix It. We’re telling a story here! Quit jumping to the last page!

Other people’s stories, whether fiction or gossip, are a way also of measuring our own life, our own decisions, our own… passion. And what I mean by passion relates directly to the opening quote. How involved are we within each moment? Do you savor each sip of tea or slam it back on the way out the door? Do you marvel over the little things or are the details washed away by the rush of activity? In our busy lives, it’s easy to be swamped by routine, which often leads to predictability, which translates into feeling as if our life is escaping. The stories help us to recapture that spirit. To rekindle our passion.

Truth is, while we all can benefit from the reminder to “stop and smell the roses,” stories are a lovely way to reconnect with the bits and pieces of ourselves that get brushed aside in our daily lives. If I re-watch Bridget Jones’ Diary (for like the millionth time), I’ll sigh and look fondly at my husband who loves me “just the way I am.” I’ll think to myself what a lucky woman I am. Not bad, eh?

The fictional heroes have the advantage over us (despite the nasty dilemmas we authors love to toss at them) simply because each story has a purpose. There is a beginning, a middle, and an end. Neatly contained. Our lives drift about like a blanket of autumn leaves scuttled by an anxious wind. So many details. So much energy. So little time.

Awakening our romantic spirit is how we prevent life from escaping.

While You Were Sleeping is one of my favorite movies. The idealistic dreamer who pins her romantic hopes on the perfect guy (she’s never actually met). I realized at one point that it wasn’t simply the romance between Lucy and Jack that touched me. Not even watching her awaken her heart enough to realize that her true love wasn’t the Perfect Guy but the one perfect for her. It was… the family. The lovely, normal family who blustered and jostled and giggled and hugged. Just like Lucy, I fell in love with Jack’s family.

Which movies or books do you return to time and again to rekindle your inner passion? And why? What spurs you on? Is it the characters, the plot, the theme?


Anonymous said...

The book I return to over and over again, is a childhood favorite, THE SECRET GARDEN. I feel hopeful and happy when I read that book. There is something about the secret of thinking positive that warms my heart. :-) Cathy

Chiron O'Keefe said...

Hi Cathy!

"The Secret Garden" is so magical. Those are the kind of stories that make everything feel right in our world. The Oz books were like that for me.

I still love "Magic By the Lake" by Edward Eager. And "Half-Magic" and pull them out when I need a lift. *happy sigh*

Smiles to you,