Last night when Xander and I were on one of our evening walks, I noticed a neighbor had two concrete Guan-Yin statues hiding in the weeping willows and kudzu of their front yard. What I wanted, more than anything, was for those statues to raise their heads in greeting and smile at me and my son. I wanted them to come to life and walk towards each other and whisper secrets together. I wanted their concrete arms and legs to make light thuds in the grass. I wanted them to move carefully in their robes, which would flow just a little in the hot summer night breeze. I wanted them to step over tiger lilies and irises, so the weight of their solid bodies wouldn’t crumple delicate petals.
Of course they remained still. Placid. But my mind raced all the same.
I think one of the reasons I have such wanderlust (even for adjoining neighborhoods and two blocks down the road), is that my imagination is terribly untamed. I see something I like, somewhere I like, a dress I like, a throw pillow whatever, and I can clearly visualize living there/possessing the pillow/wearing the dress. I can easily transport myself (and my family) to another level of consciousness just with the packing of our belongings and the rental of a UHaul. Escapism has always breathed down my neck as a constant companion. I’ve been better about it lately, and have gotten better at funneling my whims into fiction, and not expensive moves. I don’t need to move to Asheville to pretend to live in the forests around Biltmore or in the estate itself. I can’t move to Europe in the early 20th century, but I can pretend, and write about it. I wish I were better at funneling and putting it into words, though. I need to get better. If I was better at it, I could take all of you with me.
C.S. Lewis explains escapism as follows,
“We want to be more than ourselves. Each of us by nature sees the whole world from one point of view with a perspective and selectiveness peculiar to himself… We want to see with other eyes, to imagine with other imaginations, to feel with other hears, as well as with our own… We demand windows. Literature as Logos is a series of windows, even of doors…”
That’s exactly how I’ve been feeling, like I want to be more than myself, grander and smoother around the edges. I want to see magic in my everyday, both by my own creation and by the surprises of nature. I still feel like a kid, closing my eyes halfway and trying to catch my dolls moving around by themselves like Sara Crewe did.