In Praise of the Fantastic


It's been a rough couple of days. On Thursday we drove from MA to Ohio. The 11 hour drive was stressful, but we didn't run into much traffic and the audiobook of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone made the time fly by. My daughter complained of stomach issues off and on during the day, but we chalked it up to the travel. She just got through a growth spurt and her appetite had slackened a bit from that as well.

Friday I worked from 3 states away. My daughter's stomach got worse - she had the dry heaves in the morning and barely ate during the day. Reading a few chapters of The Battle of the Labyrinth made her forget about her fever and discomfort for a while, even if she barely touched her dinner.

Saturday I got up at 6 to watch my daughter pray at the porcelain altar, but no vomiting this time. Since she had a hard time getting through applesauce and dry toast, we decided to visit the emergency room.She peed in a cup and we got a $100 can of apple juice. They found no evidence of a UTI, and they told us to keep her drinking juice for hydration and caloric content.

We came home and she had a nap. Her grandparents ran some errands for a while, which gave my wife and I time to play Lords of Waterdeep. Neither of us were collecting Arcane quests, so sadly we ended up burying the Domesticate Owlbears quest, much to both of our *HOOT!*ing chagrin.

My daughter didn't eat dinner, but her temperature was normal and she ended up having a snack before bed. I got to be bad cop and made her shower and brush her teeth before bed. She cried and whined through both. I snuggled with her for a while, then she decided to snuggle with her plush Tinkerbell instead. She smiled for the first time in days. I think we're through the worst of the stomach issues now.

The house got quiet. I spend the next couple of hours reading the last half of John Scalzi's Fuzzy Nation. I laughed out loud a few times. In the silence there was me, John, and Papa on Zara XXIII with fires and explosions and finally getting the son of a bitch. It was half past midnight, and I was tired, but I felt better.

I turned off the light. And I got up to write this.

I don't think I would have made it through the past few days without the time I spent in fantasy worlds as a pressure release valve. Taking some time to be in someone else's head, watching them deal with the fabricated issues of a fictional life or struggle for control of a city that doesn't exist gives us the space we need to deal with our day-to-day reality.

We need games. We need fiction. We need different perspectives, different ideas, different inspirations. We need to know that whatever hand we're dealt isn't fixed. We need variety so our brains can make connections and solve nagging problems and continue to function.

We need hope.

Fantasy gives me hope. And inspiration. And a place in my head to regroup.

Thanks to John Scalzi, J. M. Barrie, Ed Greenwood, Rick Riordan, J. K. Rowling, and everyone else who creates for doing what you do and sharing it. Don't stop. Don't ever stop. You helped me through a rough patch when I needed it, and for that I thank you.

If anyone asks why you do something so frivolous for a living, you tell them you help people cope just before you flip them off.

And whatever you do, never stop creating.

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