Fear of an Ordinary Life, Part 2

I ran out of battery on my iphone this afternoon while sitting in starbucks.  I was waiting for 2 people.  I had to stay.  It was good that I ran out of battery, because I ended up looking at Tibidabo mountain for 30 minutes and thinking about life.

I was thinking about my post on Fear of an Ordinary Life from yesterday and the responses that it generated.

The Origin of a Fear of Ordinary

Where did this fear of living an ordinary life come from?

I read intensely as a child.  I would read anything, but by far my favourite type of novel were the fantasy or science fiction novels where a young unknown hero saves the universe.

From age 7, I watched Star Wars repeatedly.  I would watch 10 to 15 minutes each morning during breakfast before going to school.  The books are terrible, this was a movie world not a book world.

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The final Dune book, in my hands today

Starting from age 11, I read fantasy books.  My favourite fantasy world of all was Dune.  I found Dune aged 12.  There are 8 books (I still have them here on my bookshelf) in the series.  We follow the life of Paul Muad’ib from his life as an unknown son of a small time aristocrat to his becoming the Divine Emperor of the entire known galaxy, including mystical powers of telling the future and reading other people’s minds.  I fancied myself as a version of Paul.  I tried the mental skills that he was taught in the book.  Never did work.

Didn’t stop me imagining. As a teenager, I read the Dune books twice; from start to finish.  Each time, it was a 6 month journey.  (I have only ever read 3 books twice:  Dune, Lord of the Rings and Steinbeck’s East of Eden.)

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The bottom of my bookshelf

I remember the first time I finished the Dune books, I searched everywhere to see if there might be a ninth book.  There was no google, no amazon – only my local library and local bookshops.  When I realised that it was over, that there was no more adventure to be had in the fantasy world of Dune (and that Frank Herbert had passed away…  the final book was finished by someone else) I was devastated.

Real life never felt as intense or as alive as the experiences that I was living in these book-based worlds of fantasy.

In the real world, I went to school (boring), did my homework (boring), climbed trees (fun), ate breakfast, lunch and dinner (alway enough and healthy).

I think it is this immersion in these fantasy worlds for much of my childhood that shaped my fear of living a life that is ordinary.

Is this a good thing or a bad thing?

The Fantasy Worlds I Lived In

The Author’s & series that I loved during the ages of 10-15 (in order of preference):

  1. Frank Herbert – Dune Series
  2. Isaac Asimov – The Foundation Series
  3. Terry Brooks – Sword of Shannara
  4. Orson Scott Card – Ender’s Game
  5. Tolkien – Lord of the Rings
  6. Stephen Donaldson – Chronicles of Thomas Covenant
  7. Arthur C Clarke – 2001 Space Odyssey

3 comments

  1. Enrique Hernández · · Reply

    Muy interesantes ambos artículos Conor, me extraña que no hubieras comentado sobre el FOOL antes.
    A mi también me pasa a veces y entonces me siento reconfortado recordando el mensaje de la película LUCY.
    Puedes estar seguro de que dentro de 100 años todavía habrá quien te recuerde 🙂 Gracias por transmitir todo lo que sabes.

  2. Somehow your post reminded me of the first time I heard about Alternative Reality Games at a Transmedia Storytelling conference in Hollywood. People dress up and role play certain action heros or characters and totally depart from real life into this alternative real life, going into hotels in Stockholm, playing detectives, etc. Very incredible that there is such a big community out there, and that they take it so seriously. I think that that is the ultimate power of storytelling, though. It creates an alternative ‘universe’ for us to step into and take on roles and conflicts as characters with multiple points of view. It’s a great way to teach us about life, and if only the education sector would adopt new strategies to make things more accessible to children learning in this state of play/imagination.

  3. skmurphy · · Reply

    If your imagination allows you to not only visualize a better end state but see a path to achieving it that’s useful. You could argue that Clarke’s 2001 increased the probability of interplanetary travel more likely by describing a coherent vision (in the same way the Heinlein’s “The Man Who Sold the Moon” offer a useful model for a post Cold War world).

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