So many years ago, (it’s hard to believe how many at this point) I was introduced to this growingly popular YA novel called Twilight. I wish that I’d heard it was about vampires and thought “yeah, that’s not for me” but the truth would have been (and still is) that vampires will always be up my alley. The super bizarre thing for me was honestly picking up a book to read at all, even when I had no clue what it was about. I hadn’t read for fun in years. I was testing non-fiction books for Harper Collins and blogging full-time. I was so far removed from the literary world that I had no idea what sort of fiction books existed beyond mysteries and Harlequin romance–neither of which had ever appealed to me.
After some intrigue at a few bloggers I followed raving about Twilight, I grabbed a copy. I didn’t sleep, or do much of anything, for two days. I couldn’t put it down. After reluctantly packing our family for vacation, I ran to the bookstore to purchase the second book of the (then) trilogy. While I hadn’t been much of a reader, at that point in my life, it is also important to note I had always suffered from car sickness. Even so, I read the second book, New Moon, as we drove throughout the mountainous Pacific Northwest. The Twilight world had sucked me in and I was unable to think of anything else. You’d think my family would have been annoyed, but they thought it was funny. They especially got a chuckle out of us having to detour our trip through Portland so that I could grab my copy of the newly released third book Eclipse.
It was somewhere into the first chapters of Eclipse that I found myself a passenger in a car with friends, as we navigated a mountainous road that was thick with heavy trees, at actual twilight. My mind began to wander at what was watching us, waiting, in the black line of those trees? I thought about the Quileute wolf legends existing in a heavily forested region with one of the highest “big foot” sightings… could it be?
Around this mountain side we traveled as the shadows chased the irrational wanderings of my mind.
Several years before, my first Christmas eve as an adoptive mom found me staring at our daughter as she slept sweetly. The magic of Christmas suddenly meant something completely new, and then out of nowhere panic plunged my insides toward the ground… What if Santa is real? What if this strange, magical being exists and comes sneaking through our home while we sleep?
Over the weekend my husband and I were inspired to have a Twilight movie marathon. It was so fun, and I was once again swept up in the memory of these life changing books… life changing because they inspired me to fall in love with reading again, and in doing so they inspired me to think deeper than the surface level I’d been handed–deeper than the very one-dimensional level I’d been writing at in my professional life.
The revisit, though thoroughly nostalgic and entertaining also made me think about that mountain drive, and that first Christmas eve. My mind began to think about fear. Then this morning I came across a news story about an asteroid sailing past earth and another report about the dangerous weather expected to kill many and render areas of the world disaster zones this summer. In even skimming each headline I felt that same fear pop its head in for a minute.
We are living in a weird time when so many fear-motivated tragedies are happening on a daily basis. Instead of vampires and Christmas elves though, these fears are based in viruses, vaccinations, political powers, religion, sexuality, gender identity, skin tones, and on and on and on… any difference that divides us is connected to a fear-motivated tragedy that has taken place in recent days. The biggest difference between these fears and the fictional ones is it might just be a bit harder to call them irrational when the things we fear are really here. They aren’t possibly hiding in the shadows, but instead they are everywhere. Also everywhere are the printed and spoken stories about why we should fear them.
At the end of the day they are still stories. Whether it’s a fear of whats in the shadows, or a fear of something real in the world that you’ve been told is scary, we still have the opportunity to surrender to the boogeyman and let that fear control us. What if we didn’t?
What if we pushed past the fear and listened to someone outside of our normal scary-story-circle?
What if we tried to connect with someone else, something else?
What if we pushed past the usual sense of nausea we get from being a passenger in the car, and immersed ourselves in an experience so different than our normal, every day one?