Reality (Check!)

Yesterday I was wading up to my ankles in the shallow waters of Manuels River (one of the loveliest spots in this lovely province), taking The Incredible Max for a walk while the kids were swimming.  Three teenaged boys passed me, jumping from rock to rock on their way upriver.  As they passed, one slipped, lost his footing, splashed briefly in the water.  Scrambling onto another rock to continue his journey, he called to his companions, “I lost a life!”

I laughed, of course.  It seemed like a uniquely twenty-first century irony: kids out enjoying the pure beauty of nature on a gorgeous summer day, but filtering it through the metaphor of pretending to play a video game. 

A little further down, though I passed some younger boys, about Christopher’s age, also splashing in the water, pretending to play with sticks. “Come on, do it like in that X-Men movie!” one called to the others.

Which made me stop and think: kids have been playing outdoors, acting out scenes from movies and TV, ever since there were movies and TV.  Maybe video games are just adding another layer of pretense to our reality.  Before movies, I guess kids acted out scenes from books.  Probably if you went back 400+ years you’d find a couple of eleven-year-old boys with sticks, a few streets away from the Globe theatre, going “Come on, I’ll be Tybalt and you be Mercutio….”

I guess this urge to mediate reality through fiction is probably ingrained in our nature.  Even when we’re out doing things, we’re never really here, we’re starring in a imaginary drama.  I don’t know if this is good or bad, just that it happens. While it’s normal and often fun, it might mean that we miss the beauty of the present moment as we’re trying to enhance it with fiction.

My own reality lately has been a bit consumed with launching and promoting By the Rivers of Brooklyn, and it’s all starting to seem a bit unreal.  I miss blogging about everyday life here at Hypergraffiti, so I’m hoping from now on to keep most of the book-related stuff at the By the Rivers of Brooklyn site (with occasional reminders here) and get back to blogging about my so-called real life.  Which, in the next few days, will include a very unreal overnight trip to Brooklyn to pursue the dream of trying out for Jeopardy … I’ll keep you posted.

In the meantime, I’ll try hard to be right where I am, and you do the same, OK?

4 Replies to “Reality (Check!)”

  1. My dad gave me two Wonder Woman bracelets, and I remember having my brother throw clothes pins at me, so I could try and swat them away with my magic bracelets. The fun ended when he whipped one at me, and it hit me in the forehead.
    He, in turn, would try and run like the Six Million Dollar Man. 🙂

    1. Oh, I remember running like the six million dollar man…slow motion while making the sound effects. My cousin Dwayne, who was Batman, didn’t HAVE to run in slow motion, and so always beat me to wherever we were going, and then would use that to tell me how much better Batman was. I was too stupid to explain that even though it LOOKED like it was in slow motion, I was ‘really’ running very fast.

      Still never explained how he always got to the bad guys before me, though.

  2. This is a theme I emphasize in my children’s literature courses. It’s most obvious in books like Peter Pan, where Neverland is a pastiche of other children’s books, a world of children’s imagination. But even a book as early as Little Women (one of the earliest children’s books on the course) shows the children acting out Pilgrim’s Progress. So the urge to act out the books they read actually predates the existence of childeren’s literature as such.

  3. Bea, I had forgotten about the girls in Little Women acting out Pilgrim’s Progress, but of course I remember that now! Very interesting point (wish I could take your children’s lit course).

    Jamie, I can totally see Dwayne as Batman, for some reason. And of course Sherry you will always be Wonder Woman, with or without the magic bracelets.

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