after happily ever

cinderella shoe torn and stained

How do you hold onto grand ideals – the way you wish things were – in the middle of a less-than-ideal reality?

I recently visited my brother and his family in North Carolina for a few days. While there, his fiancée wanted to plan some outings with my mom and me, and among them was going to see the newly-released live action movie version of Cinderella.

Make fun all you want – I enjoyed it.

I was talking with my friend Chad last night over FaceTime, and in amongst the three hours of conversation topics was the somewhat odd way my brain works. Case in point: while I enjoyed Cinderella from a sheer entertainment standpoint, my brain was also simultaneously trying to process why I enjoyed it – what about the production, cinematography, score, dialog and actions combined into that feeling of enjoyment. All the while, I was enjoying the reactions from my mom, soon-to-be-sister-in-law and nephew – and considering the particular reasons each of them was enjoying it, as well.

Sound exhausting? I’ll be honest – it can be. But most of the time, it’s just “me being me”; and it produces some interesting insights.

I’ll leave the entirety of my findings for a sit-down conversation with you, should the occasion ever arise. But what I can say for certain is that the movie was a successful escape into idealism. I mean, what’s not to love?

In the worst of times, we are never lonely because we can talk to animals.

A quirky but lovable fairy godmother appears at just the right time, doling out miracles and restoring our faltering faith.

Friends materialize out of thin air to see us through the crisis.

There is love at first sight between people with no apparent flaws and dazzlingly white teeth despite the era.

Sure, there is death and loss and a wicked step-mother; but lifelong hurts are resolved in the space of two hours, and we know from the start that hearts heal, courage and kindness win the day, and good triumphs over evil. The bad people of the world get their comeuppance and the stalwart heroes live happily ever after.

We step out of interpersonal conflict and stress and worry and bills and loneliness; and for a cost of about $12.00, we can enter a world where – even if just for a little while – everything is the way we’d like it to be.

When such a movie is over, we sit and stare while credits in tiny print scroll to a fantastically inspirational end score, reluctant for the lights to come on and reveal the reality we left at the door before the theater dimmed and shut it all out.

I think, to some degree, we all love the idea of a perfect world. Perfect people. Perfect relationships. A perfect self. Lately, I’ve been noticing more and more the number of little ways I and the others around me attempt to create and sustain this kind of fantasy world rather than deal with the often ugly reality of things.

But rather than simply escape reality, ruing the end of such idealistic moments, I’m also of the belief that we can consciously choose to bring some of the pixie dust with us into the everyday scenes where we spend the majority of our time. For instance …

What if we choose to be the fairy godmother (or whatever the male counterpart might be) who shows up just in time and helps someone in need with a miracle of our own?

What if we choose to transform ourselves from the baser “animal-self,” who is merely concerned with where the next bit of cheese will come from, into a real and full person who engages with others in surprising ways?

What if we choose to look people in the eye and see the sparkle, overlooking their flaws and seeing the good in them?

What if we choose to forgive the “wicked” people who have mistreated us for years?

What if … ?

I’m known for claiming to be magical. Maybe I am. Magic has many definitions.

One of the things I’m noticing more and more is that most people really do want to live ideals; they just don’t know how. They post the inspirational videos and reTweet the quotes by famous people about the best of what humanity can be. And in our hearts, I think we are all trying to bring a little bit of the magic to life. But merely reading a post like this, or sharing videos, or Favoriting quotes – doesn’t really change us or the world around us.

Real change requires intention and choice put into action.

after happily ever_tweetable

Real life is no fantasy. It’s messy.  It’s complex. It can be downright difficult. But we always have a choice. We are not victims who must let life happen to us with no say in the matter. With that in mind, in addition to the ideas above, how else might you be intentional today about bringing just one of your “fantasy ideals” to life?

Could you write down one of those Twitter quotes you Favorited, and then make it your goal to find at least one way to put it into practice before you go to bed?

Could you print out a picture that inspires you, jot a “note to self” about the positive things it represents to you, and then carry it around in your money pocket, considering ways to live that out every time your fingers come in contact with it?

I guess I’m just saying that if we want to see a difference in the world –  to make a difference – maybe it’s less about wishing and more about acts of will.

after happily ever_tweetable 2

I’m just as susceptible to getting wrapped up in the momentary emotion of an ideal without taking that step to put it into action, and so many remain just a temporary fantasy escape. Let’s each find our own ways to bring a little of the magic with us into reality today.

For more thoughts and ideas on this subject, you may enjoy THIS POST (I just re-read it myself, and was prompted to some new action).

And if you DO decide to take the challenge, it would be really cool (as well as helpful to every reader) if you took a moment to share a comment below about the specific ways you find to bring a bit of magic to life. Each of us – not just the “writers” among us – has a story to tell.  Tell it.

magic wand [after happily ever]

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