Tuesday, 12 May 2015

The Secret Magic of Everyday Life

It's easy for me to get dragged down by the undertow of everyday life and for me to feel that I'm living in a quiet, slowly-moving, and unremarkable world. Sometimes it takes a fantastic, otherworldly story to save me from drowning in the seeming ordinary-ness my own day-to-day life. I was reminded of this recently as I read The Neverending Story by Michael Ende (book available here and audiobook here). 

This is a fascinating book about the power of stories, how they can affect us, and how we can affect them (if you haven't read it, you really should). Bastian is an extraordinarily ordinary boy, who upon reading a magical book, becomes a part of its story. At one point he meets Atreyu, the hero he had been reading about, who ends up becoming fascinated with Bastian's world and the seemingly mundane experiences of Bastian's daily life:
It surprised [Bastian] that Atreyu should take such an interest in the most everyday happenings. Maybe it was because of the way Atreyu listened that these everyday things took on a new interest for Bastian, as though they contained a secret magic that he had never noticed before (chapter 18).
From Bastian's perspective, Atreyu's world was the magical one. However, from Atreyu's perspective, his own world was ordinary, and it was Bastian's world that was truly magical. The experiences of these two characters hadn't changed at all, but how they saw their own stories was fundamentally changed by interacting with someone (or something) outside of each other's own limited, personal experience.

When I read truly imaginative books, I begin to sense that same sort of "secret magic" that exists in my own life, as well as the lives of those around me. It is this initiation into the magic of my own life that keeps me reading.

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