“Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times. If one only remembers to turn on the light.”
This quote comes from my favourite book series of all time and was written by one of my biggest influences in life. JK Rowling’s words and imagination throughout her 7-book Harry Potter series have caught the imagination of billions of people all over the world since the first book was published in 1997. Like the fictional wizarding community she created, her loyal fans also seem to come together as a community to keep the magic alive and I unashamedly place myself into this community. Which is why earlier this week, when I saw a comment made on Twitter that questioned the maturity of these books and their fans and insinuated that it was ridiculous that so many people should put so much faith in something that is not real, my immediate response was:
“I’ll take fiction over reality any day.”
I guess I can’t say it’s not true. I love escaping my surroundings sometimes by delving into a really good book. But it did make me stop and think. Is the fact that I’d rather be stuck in fictional worlds of someone else’s imagination rather than face the often harsh and confusing world of reality really a good thing? Terrible things are happening all over the world these days. Should I not be taking more notice, rather than burying my head in the comfort of fiction?
The first answer I came to is yes. If I don’t like the world I live in I should be doing something to change it, not letting it carry on around me whilst I force myself into a self-contented ignorance.
However, when I thought about why these particular books have stayed with me for so many years, it’s not because I’m a woman in my mid-twenties, wishing she could believe in magic and board a train on an imaginary platform to a world of make-believe. It’s because those books have taught me lessons, morals and values that have helped to mould me into the mature, caring and responsible adult that I am.
And fiction isn’t all about magic and excitement and leading readers into a false pretence about happy ever after’s. Every good story still has to have problems with the main protagonist meeting their goals, conflict between main characters and evil villains that are out to cause trouble. But a good story will leave the reader wanting to use the same strength as the character to meet their own goals in life. One thing I like to happen with a story is to find a level of empathy with the villain because it makes me realise that we are all human and in real like we can all strive to make good out of bad.
It doesn’t matter how far-fetched the fiction world gets, the truth is that behind every made-up story, there is a real person, with real thoughts, and real views, portraying them in a way they know best. And most of the time they don’t write these books to teach people or preach to them, but to entertain them. But if those readers take strength and positivity from those stories and the made-up plots actually help people to understand and accept some of the real-life drama going on around them then surely that’s an incredible power that should be encouraged, not looked down upon?
JK Rowling came up with a story of a boy wizard when she was delayed on a train to London one day. Now twenty years later, people all over the world have been connected by that one initial thought and I can almost guarantee that every single one of those people would agree that the one lesson that you take away from Harry Potter among all others is: Love.
I don’t read fictional stories to deny reality…I read them to gain perspective on it.