This is my last post until after the Christmas break, so see you all next year. I hope your holiday (whatever you may celebrate) is filled with warmth, joy, and light.
I went to see "The Hobbit" opening day, which was the same day I heard about the shooting in Newtown, CT. I felt bad, at first, for going out and having fun the same day such evil happened, but it turned out to be a very positive thing. There's a line in the movie where Gandalf is explaining why he chose Bilbo. He says, and this is paraphrase, that he believes the darkness is held back not by great shows of power but by small acts, small, everyday acts by small everyday people. I needed to hear this after hearing the terrible news that morning.
Over the past year, and specifically now, I've understood Longfellow's words in the Christmas song: "And in despair, I bowed my head. 'There is no peace on Earth,' I said. 'For hate is strong and mocks the song of peace on Earth, good will to men." I have felt sympathetic with the fantasy characters I write and read, dealing with great evil. I feel that, lately, at least, the Dark is rising. It seems that every day I see more evil in the news and less good. It can be depressing and even terrifying.
It's so easy to write about characters fighting against insurmountable odds. That's fantasy, after all. Good and evil play out in human/creature forms, and good always wins. We envy the hero's strength and courage, we wish we could be more like that, but too often we dismiss it as a figment of a writer's imagination. They're just stories, we think. This isn't at all like real life.
But we forget, I think, that we are, each of us, the heroes of our own lives. We are the protagonists, we are the knights, the princesses, the unlikely children who grow to do great deeds. Sometimes I wonder how life might be different if we thought of ourselves that way, instead of, "Oh, I'm nobody special. My life is ordinary and I'll never shine." Perhaps we'd have more heroes, more people pushing back the Darkness, pinning it back with brightly shining stars. It doesn't have to be much; we don't all have to go out on knight-errant quests to save lives and fight monsters, clad in armor and carrying a sword. A small, everyday act may be exactly the heroism that is needed. A hug, a smile, a sincere compliment given at the right time, any moment where another's needs are placed above your own. That can be truly life-saving to the person who receives it, and the giver strikes one more blow against the Dark.
I believe we all have different talents given to us for the betterment of others. My friend is extremely kind and giving, and she uses her talents by teaching children and also by helping those around her feel better about themselves. I have other friends who give their time and talents to serve others. In my case, I have a talent for writing fantasy for young readers.
G.K. Chesterton said, "Fairy tales are more than true; not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us dragons can be beaten." Oscar Wilde said, "It is what you read when you don't have to that determines what you will be when you can't help it." I hope my stories, read for fun, tell youths that dragons can be beaten, and that they are the heroes with the power to fight back. I hope my readers grow up believing in hope and light and honor, and also that they are free to act to better the world, even in small ways. I don't want them to say, "The world is dark and evil, and there's nothing I can do about it, so I may as well join it." I want them to say, "There is much in the world that is dark and evil, but it doesn't have to be that way. There is also much good, and I will add to it."
As this Christmastime comes and goes, and after comes the time for new beginnings and promises to do better, I hope it will be a season of light, not darkness. I hope it will be, for you as well as for me, a time for giving of ourselves, for fighting the Dark, and for growing into the heroes we've always wanted to be. I wish you all the best this holiday season. See you next year.