A Magical World

The Little Things (Written February 24, 2015)

Look around, what do you see?
What sights, what lives unwind?
Too much, I wager, is sitting there
To be grasped by the average mind.

We don’t need extreme to fill us up,
Nothing fantastic or grand,
If we could just see all the little things
I suspect we’d be more full than we planned.


Have you ever noticed how we tend to think of our lives as being empty? We act like we need some epic adventure or super powered friend to have an interesting life. My mom is an English teacher. She has her students do creative writing projects all the time. Frequently she will give them some sort of prompt- a sentence it has to end or begin with, a particular setting, etc.- and tell them to write a story. The common trend is to add swords and sorcery to it to make it more exciting. She has trouble getting them to write anything else.

Now, just to clarify: I love swords and sorcery type stories. If you’ve been reading this blog for any amount of time you know that fantasy is something I not only enjoy but also seriously respect. So….why would I take issue with kids writing that type of story all the time? Well, you see, I have this theory…

What sort of message gets passed on through a particular high fantasy novel, typically? Something about home and family? True love? Respect and duty? Yeah, basically, something like that. What does a fictional story without the high fantasy tend to tell? Something about seeing the wonder and magic around you? About, to give a good reference from a story I wasn’t terribly fond of, finding eternity within the numbered days?

Noticing a trend? For whatever reason, it is very effective to talk about appreciating the normal things through a fantastic story, and to talk about finding magic in life through a very unmagical story. Why? As if I know. But it’s worth thinking about.

Bringing this back to the creative writing thing, why would the fantasy stories worry me? Well, because they are looking at the fantasy because they can’t see magic around them. You have to be able to recognize your letter from Hogwarts, the knock of Gandalf at your door, the wardrobe that leads to Narnia, even though it looks like something totally normal. For me Gandalf came in the form of a little old man who taught me in ninth grade, challenging me to live up to my potential. My letter from Hogwarts was an email from someone I didn’t even know. She’s now one of the most important people in the world to me, and she’s opened me up to an incredible place I never knew existed. And Narnia? That’s my room or my home. Every time I open that door I step into the most wonderful place, not always safe, not always welcoming, but always where I long to be, even if I have to grow up one day and leave it for a while.

Magic is all around us. There are wizards in candy shops and classrooms, hobbits at your favorite restaurant, and enchanted doorways to secret worlds in every book you read. If you go looking for something else, some huge and incredible something, you might miss the amazing world happening right in front of you.

Open your eyes and see the world around you. Now open them again and see all the magic it holds.


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