You know what I read? I read a lot of young adult novels. Fantasy. Memoir. I do not read a lot of literary fiction or serious non-fiction. All throughout my education, I resisted finding symbolism and identifying literary devices. I can do it, but it isn't as much fun. When you love stories and adventure, when the characters become your family and friends, it feels wrong to think too much. It's not polite to try to psychoanalyze your friends; likewise, it seems rather rude to talk at length about Jane and Rochester as
symbols and representatives and constructs.
What if Jane McGonigal and the other gamification folks are right, that it's our reality that is broken, that our love of games and escapist literature speak to our deepest longings as human beings. I know I crave meaningful action; I want to be part of something huge and desperately important. I want a secret identity, a perilous quest, and comrades of the road whose back I always have.
I don't think contrived merit badges and giant LARPing sessions are the answer for me. I want that meaning infused into my every moment.
In second grade, I was in love with The Return of the Jedi. I wore my hair in Princess Leia buns to school every day. My inner narrative was entirely Star Wars based. It was in everything I did. The next year, I was Sara Crewe from A Little Princess. Fourth grade was a bit less focused, until the Anne of Green Gables era began. Year after year I found my heroine, I found my narrative, and I gave it all I had. The rules were clear; I knew what to do and how to behave. The world was layered -- my world as it was, and my world as I lived in it.
Sometimes, the hardest thing about being a grownup is having so little story to my days. I'm struggling to recover a thread of meaning. Perhaps this is part of fall, of autumn, of the changing season, the diminishing light. Today, the light and air had a distinctly September-ish quality that I love with an aching love. I am full of nostalgia and memories of actual happiness.
Sara is a storyteller, writer, artist, teacher, wife, mother, and singer living in Minnesota. I write about storytelling, and about living a life with stories.