“Only those who truly love and who are truly strong can sustain their lives as a dream. You dwell in your own enchantment. Life throws stones at you, but your love and your dream change those stones into the flowers of discovery… People like you are unknowing transformers of things, protected by your own fairy-tale, by love.”
— Ben Okri (Thanks to Theodora Goss for bringing this quotation to my attention.)
I love this idea, of sustaining life as a dream. Dora rightly stated that this is what artists do, but it is what all of us can do, if we so choose. It is what I would like to do, and I think my (limited) ability to do it is part of the best of me.
Of course, most of the time I don’t think of my life as a dream, or a fairy tale, or an adventure. I forget. I get caught up in my to do list, the daily minutiae, my worries and little dramas. One of the reasons I loved living in London so much was that being removed from the very familiar helped remind me of life as a dream. But here in my life right now it is much harder to stay connected to my own fairy tale.
So as I think about the not-so-distant future, I am asking myself: If I was running my own fairy tale (which I pretty much am), what would I do? Where would I go? How can I help myself develop my own personal world of enchantment?
Transformation is a powerful magic. I half-joke about hating change, and of course the reason I hate it is because of the price. As any budding fantasy writer knows, all magic has a price; all magic systems must have drawbacks in order to compensate for the sometimes insanely powerful effects magic can gift to its user. In our world, the price is often pain and discomfort.
The trick, I think, is to turn that pain, that profound sense of displacement, into a fairy tale. To give the pain meaning, if you will. Part of that is finding the petals amongst the stones, the good that comes from the bad, the silver lining, the twist of happiness hiding at the heart of bitterness. Part of that is surrounding yourself with reminders of enchantment. And part of that is being aware of the story as you live it, to become a lucid dreamer of life.
Ben Okri is right. To stay in the dream takes enormous strength, and openness, and willingness to pay the pain price. It is not for everyone.
But for those of us who aspire to dwell there, it is its own reward.