“If happy little bluebirds fly beyond the rainbow, why, oh why can’t I?” The final strains of the wistful tune float off into the ether and I, in a black mood, mutter, “What a bunch of hogwash!” There are some days when dreams have been relegated to the trash bin, and imaginary worlds are nothing but party balloons which have lost their buoyancy and hang, limp, on the floor. In some ways, on this day, it seemed that even Nature was in cahoots with the mental pattern. I awoke to bright, sunny skies and warm, springlike temperatures which lulled the spirit into hopefulness, but by afternoon the sun was nowhere to be seen and the dark skies whispered their dreary spells. Just so, reality has a way of sneaking in and dispelling the fluffy cumulus clouds of hope and fantasy from the sky, replacing them with the dark thunderheads of stark, somber certainty. In this reality, there are no bluebirds, no “dreams that you dare to dream” coming true.
How did I get here from there? This is the boy who had finished every “Oz” book by the age of ten. As an adult, I have read all of the “Chronicles of Narnia” aloud to my own children and have worked my way through the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy at least six times. I have always devoured fantasy books, reading voraciously about other worlds, other creatures, other realities. Just so you understand; I’ve never really believed that any of them existed. I have always had my feet firmly on the ground in the here and now. I just enjoy the idea of “what if?” and that has continued through the many stages of my life. The dreams of other worlds, worlds to which one can escape in mere moments, have a fascination and are, in fact, healthy to an extent. To a young boy, vistas were opened before my eyes that the hot, dusty world of reality could never offer. There were possibilities, instead of dead ends; potential where there had been only disapproval. As an adult, the fantasy world offers a respite from the hard, cold realities of the grown-up world. Unpaid bills can be forgotten for an hour or two, failures in the business world fade into the dreams of kingdoms and success beyond the realm of what is possible in real life.
But, for a little while tonight, I find myself calling “foul” and recognizing that the counterfeit world of fantasy and imagination can sidetrack us from the task at hand. Young ladies await their knight in shining armor, only to find that he is a fraud; merely a figment of the imagination, replaced quickly in a relationship by the unrecognizable bumbling, selfish human being that all of us mortal men actually are. The fantasy beauty queen that we men envision waking up to each morning for the rest of our lives is also a fraud, hidden behind makeup and mountains of implements necessary to achieve the illusion each day. That said, when the truth becomes evident on both sides, I’m pretty sure the reality is actually better than the storyline, since we can relate better and, recognizing the shortcomings of each other, better accept our own limitations.
No, the Emerald City doesn’t exist, the Wizard who can grant all our wishes is a humbug, and there are no ruby slippers to be found in all of creation whose heels can be clicked together to take us home. “There’s no place like home,” is a nice sentiment, but the only way to get there is through. Through the tough times. Through the hard work. Through the desert and sometimes over the mountains.
I’m really not depressed. I’ve just come to the conclusion that “happily ever after” (at least, in this lifetime) is an illusion which needs to be exposed for the deception that it is. For all of our lives we have a purpose, at which we must work, to fulfill. Every day is a continuation of the process, a fresh opportunity to make progress. Reaching the goals in front of us won’t cause a cessation of the labor, but will lead to bigger and loftier goals. This is what we were made for! It is part of our DNA, our destiny, if you will. The ongoing task is not a disappointment, not a failure on our part to achieve the ideal. It is the ideal.
I’m pretty sure that I’ll still take a breather occasionally to get lost in a dream world. Rest and recreation…both are part of our needs as humans. It does no harm to enjoy the idea of what might be at the other end of the rainbow. The Irish have speculated for ages; our parents did the same in their time with Dorothy and the Wizard; our children had their go at it with the Muppets. But, we don’t get to stay there. If you’ll look carefully at the picture I included above, you’ll see that for me at least, the end of that celestial arch is actually the green-roofed music store at which I labor daily. Odd how that works out, huh?
For today, at least, I’m headed along the road to home. My Real Home. I hope you’ll travel along with me. You never know where there will be lions, and tigers, and bears. Oh, my!
“You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.”
(Mark Twain~American humorist and author~1835-1910)
“I rejoiced to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as we were commanded…”
(2 John 1:4)