My aunt, uncle, and cousins have been visiting for the past week. They are awesome and I have had a fantastic time seeing them. Albeit I have not written much because of their stay, I have learned quite a bit about fantasy...and from my two-year old cousin (we'll call him C) of all people!
It wasn't quite as cold this afternoon. So after we got back from church, C and I decided to spend some time outside. We were the only people in the yard. A slight breeze was blowing, making the wind chimes begin to sing. The playset sat tall and proud, the swings shifting slightly.
C and I stepped into the yard. A huge grin took over his face and he rushed to the wind chime. He watched the wind chimes for a few moments, then rushed to the lowest one. He gently prodded the metal tube with his finger. We listened the noise. He touched it again, a little harder. Laughing aloud, he lifted his arm and smacked the wind chime, shaking the small branch it hung upon. He laughed and raised his arm to hit it again.
"No no, C," I said. He stared at me, then glanced back at the wind chime. After a moment's contemplation, he shrugged and came back.
Lesson #1- Some fantasy "normals" have become so typical and cliche, that even if you hit them as hard as you can it will not make the sound more beautiful. In fact, it will get annoying. Clarification: Some things are so cliche, even your most zany and unique idea for it won't fix the problem. For instance, the "I am your father" villain-is-hero's-father twist is so overused, it can't really be made un-cliche.
I chased C down the little hill in our yard. The shed is placed very closed to our high fence, giving part of our yard an "alleylike" feel. He marched into our alley, like a brave knight on a quest, and began to explore. He pointed to the tiny hole in the shed's foundation and he insisted in peering into it. Undecipherable exclamations of excitement and wonder bubbled out of him as he lay in the dirt looking through the hole. I gave him a funny look. That hole was irritating to me. My dachshund Derby had been lost down there countless times, causing hours of calling and searching with a flashlight, trying to get the crazy dog to crawl out. Bunnies often nested there, causing both dogs to bark hysterically whenever they came around the shed.
But to C, the hole was an incredibly awesome mystery.
Lesson #2- While some fantasies/books/genres/authors might be irritating to me, it does not mean other people can't like them. For instance, I am not a huge fan of Charles Dickens. And that's an understatement. It doesn't mean other people can't like him. It also doesn't mean other people are less intelligent for liking him. His writing is just not my style. But that's my opinion. It also means I don't need to be offended when people express distaste for my favorite genres/books/authors/whatevers. Even if they are rude, I just have to remember that it doesn't matter what they think and that they are free to have their own opinions.
C finally rose to his feet and began walking away from the hole. He walked around the tree growing behind out shed and moved to the air conditioning unit.
"C, please don't touch that," I said, walking over to stand beside him. He stared at the giant metal box for a few moments, tilting his head from side to side.
He looked up at me and pointed, "What's this, KayCEE?" (He always says the last syllable of my name super long and super high pitch)
I giggled at how he pronounces my name. I pointed to the box, "This makes the house feel nice."
C squinted at the box. After a moment, he turned away, clearly not comprehending. He suddenly squealed loudly and rushed back towards the shed. I followed him and glanced at what he was pointing at, praying it was not a frog.
It was not a frog, but a clump of green moss. I smiled and knelt in the ground, "It's soft, C, see?"
He sat on the ground beside me and stared at the moss. He began to rub it with his finger, his smile slowly growing larger. For more than a minute, he pet the tiny clump. A chilly breeze burst through the air. I shivered and glanced towards the deck, wondering how much longer C would want to be out here.
C finally stopped petting the moss and reached for a nearby pebble. He clumsily lifted it to his eyes. He twisted it and analyzed it from all angles. He pulled himself to his feet, keeping the dirty rock clutched in his tiny fist. He looked at the moss one last time, then began to walk towards the deck.
Lesson #3- I hinted at this in my last post about fantasy. Fantasy helps you regain childlike awe and amazement at "ordinary" things. As a little kid, C is still finding everything in the world new and miraculous. I used to feel this way, but as you grow up, you become so bogged down in life, worries, and biological hierarchy charts that you stop noticing the "boring" little details. God made those details just for me to enjoy. How dare I consider them "mundane" and "boring"? They are incredible, impossible, perfect creations that no man could ever craft. Fantasies should help bring those little details into a sharp microscope, and force a reader to never view them the same way again.