Fantasy. A genre without boundaries, without limitations. Gods walk among us and magic thrives in every living thing. The impossible is attainable and the sky isn’t even the limit.
But is that only contained in the realm of fiction?
I used to think so. I’ve spent more time than I care to mention with my head in the clouds and my mind off in a fantasy world—dueling dragons, saving princesses, learning magic, and vanquishing evil. I always envied those in the books and movies for their inhuman abilities and extraordinary powers. I’d tell myself that nothing I could ever do would come close to being that amazing.
As it turns out, I should have spent less time on my envy of the unreal and more time in awe of the surreal. Humanity doesn’t get nearly the credit it deserves in fantasy, not to the extent of which we’re capable as humans.
I have to point out a YouTube channel I started following, called People Are Awesome. In their compilation videos, we get to see just how far people are willing to go to stretch their limits and unlock the full potential of their physical beings. People are performing outstanding feats of strength, agility, flexibility, precision, and balance. Just like the heroes in all the fantasy stories I’ve read. It really got me thinking…
What defines a hero, anyways?
Bravery and courage are probably the top two answers. But it’s more than that. It’s also imagination.
A hero has to be able to envision themselves achieving their goals. They have to know that they would be willing to risk everything, including their own lives, to accomplish their tasks. They have to have the creativity to pursue alternative methods when the standard way is overdone or out of service. And they have to have confidence in their own abilities.
I’m not a hero. But I’ve seen what humanity can do. They can leap off a cliff face and live. They can climb buildings, scale mountains, and fly without wings. They can bend their bodies in ways I can’t even imagine. They can perform contortions and flips on the edge of a rooftop, leap into an ocean from a thousand feet high, and show off their balancing act on a surfboard. It takes my breath away to see humans—real humans—doing these things.
I have to ask, fellow writers…although we may not all be qualified to jump out of an airplane to play a game of tag mid-fall, and we may not all be sane (or insane) enough to leap off the side of a building, do we not have bravery and courage? Do we not stand up every day, telling ourselves that we will press on past the writer’s block and rejection letters, scanning through the critique and feedback, hoping to better ourselves? Do we not subject our writing to readers, knowing it will bare our soul and leave us vulnerable to the world? Are those not intellectual versions of bravery and courage?
I don’t need to describe for you what it means to have an imagination or why it’s essential for writers and the worlds they create. But with those traits combined, aren’t we also heroes?
I’ve envisioned myself reaching the end of my novel, and after that, the shelves of the book stores. I know I’d risk everything to finish my story and perfect it, and I’ve already given up a good chunk of time and effort that I’m sure could have been spent on my family and friends (thank you all for putting up with me in my hermit-writing-phase, by the way). I’ve pursued alternative writing methods and a plethora of synonyms, descriptions, and definitions during my epic writing journey, and it all comes down to this.
Do I have the confidence?
I know self-esteem is an issue for me, but I’m not so sure the answer is no. I’ve made it this far, and so have you. So why not? Why not claim our confidences, stand tall in the face of adversity, and be heroes?
If all our wildest imaginations are poured into the realm of fantasy, and humanity is capable of such outstanding feats in reality, I see no reason the two cannot be entwined. In the end, really, I think fantasy is what defines life for us. Without boundaries, without limitations. Gods walk among us and magic thrives in every living thing. The impossible is attainable and the sky isn’t even the limit.
We can be heroes, too. Write your stories, tell your tales, and have confidence. Create new worlds and mystical creatures if you so choose, but remember that at the end of the day, it was all an extension of you. It was your feat of emotional strength, mental flexibility, precision, and ultimately, balance. It wasn’t easy, but you did it. You created something from nothing, something that wouldn’t exist without you. And you are a hero.