Everywhere I go, my customized book bag is a topic of conversation.
First of all, it’s literally a BOOK bag, sending the message “I’m a reader.”
Then people realize what the “book” is about. A play on Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, my book bag bears the title “Magical Worlds and Where to Find Them.”
Opening a book, for me, is akin to Newt Scamander opening his suitcase – we step in and walk through magically expanded worlds. Whatever the book, it’s a passport to the minds and souls of other people, where I find myself reflected not always as a writer or thinker but as a fellow human being on the common, complex journey of life.
That’s the message I want to send to my young students, who are frequently in raptures over my book bag: Read. Expand your world, your mind.
My book bag actually sends more than one message:
It’s an homage to my favorite fantasy writers and the worlds they created, old and new.
Much is written and debated, perhaps, on the importance of reading fantasy. Here’s a favorite quote on the subject:
The problem with people who are afraid of imagination, of fantasy, is that their world becomes so narrow that I don’t see how they can imagine beyond what their senses can verify. We know from science that there are entire worlds that our senses can’t verify.
The magic is a draw, certainly – in regard to Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia, who wouldn’t want to experience singing stars and merfolk, a centaur, talking animals? Who wouldn’t want a chance to feel the tingle of the box of dust from the lost island of Atlantis and ride on the back of a huge owl? Truth is, the bigger, deeper exploration is not the mysteries of the magical world but the real workings of the human heart – we read fantasy to escape our world, to live in another for a time, and all the while we’re looking into a mirror. This is where our thinking truly broadens – in understanding self, then in pushing the parameters of possibility.
Dr. Seuss said:
Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living, it’s a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope, and that enables you to laugh at life’s realities.
The lines between the fantasy stories we love best and the world we live in are much blurrier than we realize. It’s where the impossible and possible merge – who’s to say where all the boundaries really are?
Which is fun, sometimes even comforting, to think about.
So everywhere I go, I carry a little fantasy, a little magic, with me.
Via my book bag – a messenger bag, indeed.