I have often said that I believe people come into our lives for a reason. They cross our paths to fulfill a specific need. Sometimes their purpose is to become a lover, a friend or a confidant. Sometimes their purpose is instructional. They come to teach us a lesson about the world or about ourselves.
In the last while I have come to learn that these people, who come to shape our existence, may not always be physically present. Occasionally it may be an author you have never met, or even some of their characters who come to your aid. Sometimes a work of fiction has the power to reach you in a way a “real” person simply never could. Just in the same way as it happens with real life people, this always seems to occur exactly when you need it most.
I have had an experience of this very recently. In a very convoluted and six degrees of separation type way, I came to discover Terry Pratchett. (I had heard about Amanda Palmer on a Podcast, which prompted me to read her book. She is married to Neil Gaiman, and so I read a couple of his books. After Neverwhere and American Gods, I was hungry for more, so I read Good Omens, which Neil and Terry wrote together.) It was from here that the love affair with Terry began.
It amazes me that I have not stumbled across his work before now. I studied literature in University and even outside of that, I am usually a voracious reader. Stranger still, is that my sister and many of my friends have all read his work, and yet until now none of it had landed in my lap.
I am a couple of months and half a dozen books in to my tour of the Discworld, and I honestly don’t know how to describe it. The books are mesmerising and enchanting. I have been spellbound from the start, and the series has given me more honest to goodness, laugh out loud moments, than any other. After months of taxing my brain to its very limit, Terry’s Multiverse has been like a balm. Being able to completely immerse myself in a fantasy world, has proved to be the tonic, I didn’t even know I needed.
Terry’s characters are where the magic really lies. Each one I meet, instantly becomes my new favourite. The cast of witches and wizards, dwarfs and even Death himself, are all so incredibly relatable. It is as though they hold a mirror in front of you to show you the long forgotten parts of yourself. I had forgotten that there was a part of me that believes in magic. I had neglected the little girl inside me, whose wide eyed wonderment makes the world just a little more interesting. I had stopped allowing myself to be curious, to fantasise, to be surprised. And how “weary, stale, flat and unprofitable” it had all become!
If you had asked me last year if I liked fantasy novels, I would have said absolutely not. I am far too sensible and busy for all that! However, thinking about it lately, if you enquired about some of my favourite books, among them would be The Hobbit and The Eyes of The Dragon. Both fantasy, and both read to me as a little girl. I have loved immersing myself in Terry’s world. I have become extremely protective of the time I spend with Rincewind, Granny and Death. These days, I feel I dream in Octarine! I can’t help but wonder, why I had resisted it for so long.
I think the answer is simply this. I had become so caught up in creating this “perfect” version of myself, (Arwen the accountant, Arwen the student, Arwen the writer) that I had failed to nurture any parts of myself which appeared not to fit this persona. I stopped taking myself out to play.
A very wise woman (thank you Sarah) told me recently that we need to learn to embrace our duality. We need to try to accept that we can be both serious at times and zany at times. Being more of one doesn’t make you any less of the other. It’s okay to love the Beatles and still enjoy Bieber! I am coming to realise that taking time out to refresh myself with fantasy, actually makes me better able to cope with reality.
I have written many times now, about the importance of balance. I can’t stress how crucial it is to take time out to do what you want to do, in order that you can be re-energised to do what you need to do. Important as well, is being open to trying new things. Watch the movie that’s not your preferred genre, read the book your friend recommended, order the main course you haven’t tried before. You just might discover a new passion!
As I questioned why it took me so long to trip over Terry, one phrase kept coming to mind “when the student is ready, the teacher will appear!” I am beginning to feel that he was waiting for me. His world has come to me right at a time when I am at leisure to explore it. His writing has been soothing and inspirational in equal measure. Magic! Be well xxx