Confession: I love fantasy.
My favorite authors, J.R.R. Tolkien and Robert Jordan are in the fantasy genre. I admit to playing Dungeons and Dragons (even watched the cartoon). I thoroughly enjoyed Gauntlet at the arcade and one of my most memorable Christmases included a bunch of cousins playing the brand-new Legend of Zelda on the brand-new Nintendo 64.
Having just returned from a vacation that included a tour of the Las Vegas Strip and a couple of days at Disneyland, I recognize I’m not the only one who likes to indulge in fantasy. In fact, Disney and Las Vegas are built on fantasy.
I was able to snap a photo of the Statute of Liberty (turns out the real one is in New York and it doesn’t have a roller-coaster).
I got to stand at the base of the Matterhorn (I had to look up the real Matterhorn to discover it’s on the border between Switzerland and Italy).
“Come here to get away from reality,” peddlers of fantasy promise. “What we offer is better anyway.”
They have become expert at drawing us into an alternate-reality, a fantasy where we get to do whatever our hearts desire. We eat and play with reckless abandon. We allow ourselves to be transported to other worlds and far-off places. We enter environments crafted specifically to maximize our enjoyment and pleasure. And we pay good money for the experience.
And as I’ve shared, I think such a retreat from our routines and from the pressures of the daily grind is a good thing.
But too much of a good thing becomes a bad thing. (ask me sometime about eating an entire can of black olives…not pretty).
What happens when we desire and seek out the fantasy as our reality? What is the result of spending all day every day playing video games or watching movies or reading books? What are the consequences of a perpetual retreat?
Reality is warped. Relationships crumble. Our motivations are skewed. Our priorities out-of-whack.
Many will argue these points. “I’m closer to my online community than I am to the people I live with.”
I think such a statement actually illustrates the problem.
When the real world of messy relationships is replaced with the fantasy world of artificially enhanced encounters, we miss the very real point of relationships – they are costly, requiring personal sacrifice. Relationships demand we care at least as much about others as we do about ourselves. I don’t get to turn off the computer and walk away from my wife when we struggle. I don’t have the opportunity to put down the book and forget about raising my children. I don’t get to shut off the movie when I clash with a friend or coworker.
No, in the real world, we have to deal with this stuff. We work it out (or not), but we don’t get to pretend it away.
So, I’m still living on the high of a great vacation. I’m telling the stories and smiling over the photos. But, I’m also settling back into the routine…make the lunch, wash the dishes, take out the trash. And I hope I’m bringing a little more energy to those tasks. I hope those around me feel my excitement for life has been renewed. I pray the time away makes me better at being real and present and in the moment.
With all that said, I also hope that during this season of Advent, I have a better sense of what is real and what is fantasy. What I should focus on and what I should sporadically indulge in.
The Christmas parties, the gifts, the singing and the lights…let me have some of these.
Sharing and caring and loving and giving…let me do these in abundance.
Life is better together,