Stories have changed my life. Having a very restricted childhood, I learned early on that reading was almost as good as doing. If not quite as exciting, definitely better than being bored. With books, I discovered I could "jump into someone else's skin," and soon became very adept at it. My "willing suspension of disbelief" was easily triggered back in those days. And as my reading territory grew, I found there were no restrictions about whose skin I could jump into.
Why, I could trudge around in the skin of a boy who fought in the Civil War if I wanted, and come away with a very striking knowledge of just what that kind of life was like. Without danger of being killed. Which was also important. I could jump into the skin of Jane, too, and experience life with a wild man in jungle treetops, and never once get bitten by anything deadly. Ah, that was one of my favorite places that I went back to again, and again. But something else came along with those stories. Many of the characters I read about were very exceptional people. And though I was unaware of it, most of them practiced a code of ethics that I subconsciously began to mirror, simply because I wanted so badly to be like them. All those heroes and heroines.
The people in my literary world took time to explain things people in my "real" world didn't have time for, and often knew nothing about. They fed my thinking habit, which is a great pastime durring that time in your life when you have all the time in the world. And I would venture to say my literary folks had more influence on my eventual personality than anyone else in my life.
Not because I was ignored (heavens, I came from a loving family, who felt it necessary to provide me with stories in the first place) but because there was something very real about the adventures these characters and I went on together. For a short time, we had a common life, a great dilemma, and a common goal. We went adventuring together.
And because who I went adventuring with were very often great people, I started to dream of great things. In the end, I actually managed to latch onto a great life of my own. One with no restrictions. One that allows me to travel anywhere in the world I want, where I meet people from every walk of life that have enriched my life beyond measure. My real life, today, is made up of one adventure after another. Not surprisingly, the question I am most often asked is, "How can you manage to do that?" And I always tell the truth.
It starts with who you choose to spend time with, what kind of people they are, and if their experiences are of the variety that you, yourself, would like to have. You seek them out. Do whatever you have to in order to discover where they are. Then you listen to their stories. What comes after that is natural. However, I cannot give away this secret without the word of warning that must always come with it. This kind of exploration and communication holds the same kind of power as any other force in nature. Like fire, it can give light and warmth to millions when used for good, or bring death and devastation to millions if used for evil. Which is why it is always best to choose your stories wisely.
The good stories are worth their weight in gold.
Because "…All who look openly through the glass, and catch sight of the glory… are themselves changed… from glory to glory…" (that's a Lilly paraphrase for 2 Corinthians 3:18) Something that also intrigued Meg Jennings, from GOLD TRAP, who actually took a leap of faith and set out to find if this could possibly be true for her life, as well. And what did she discover?
Ah, but that, dear readers, is another story.
author of GOLD TRAP